Purpose.

Well, here we are. In less than 48 hours, I’ll be boarding a plane headed home, signing off on a summer that has proven extremely toasty, challenging at times, and full of pleasant surprises.

Six weeks ago, if you had told me that I would be building tree objects in a setting outside of a computer science class, I probably would have retched a little on the inside, having completed my fair share of awful tree-building assignments in MIPS, Java, and C. My sleep-deprived and Zoom-fatigued brain would have called it quits even before almost screwing up a Western Blot on Week 3. Yet, here we are. 500+ lines of code and dozens of bugs crushed for some promising preliminary data. A forty-minute long, unscripted, lab meeting presentation that really should not have lasted more than twenty. Turns out presentations can be fun when you’re excited about what you’re talking about.

Through it all, I have greatly enjoyed the opportunity to pursue interesting questions, learn new things, and befriend many of my colleagues in the process. I’ve found what Bob Lefkowitz described as a “calling” in his faculty talk: a charge to prevent a major public health disaster like COVID-19 from ever happening again. While it’s not clear what the answer to that charge might look like, I know that it will be the challenge that gets me out of bed every morning. Maybe I’ll continue working on developing better antivirals, or pivot to something entirely different. All the same, I look forward to meeting new mentors, finding new opportunities, and continuing to discover my purpose.

In the words of Chadwick Boseman, “Purpose crosses disciplines. Purpose is an essential element of you. It is the reason you are on the planet at this particular time in history”.

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