Photo by Amy Liu

Following my head or my heart

Throughout my whole life, whenever I was asked what I wanted to be when I grew up, I confidently proclaimed, “I want to be a neurosurgeon.” Yet, as I started exploring more subjects in high school, I quickly realized that my passions lay in a completely different field: political science. This realization left me at a crossroads when applying to college, torn between following my heart or following a path that would satisfy my parents.  

From the moment I knew what a neurosurgeon did, I thought I was destined for that profession. It was a field both interesting to me and approved by my family. Yet, as I began the college application process and reflected through my personal essays, neuroscience lost its luster: my apparent interest was only surface-level.

In addition, everything I did in high school was more oriented toward humanities than STEM subjects. I participated in Mock Trial, the Epic and organized the school’s abortion rally. The only time I had even entered the world of medicine was the summer before senior year, when I decided to volunteer at a hospital while completing a prestigious medical program, none of which evoked a true sense of purpose.

Yet for some reason I could not throw away neuroscience. Every single college essay I wrote was political science related, yet I applied to every school as a neuroscience major. After listening to my friends talk about their alignment of majors with their extracurricular activities, I worried about my profile, but there was nothing I could do. In the end, I was accepted into many reputable colleges, but I still felt unsatisfied. I realized my true goal wasn’t the prestige of the college, but my field of interest: I yearned to pursue something in political science, so I started to think about potentially double majoring. 

When I approached my parents about this, they urged me to carefully consider my options before making a hasty decision. As I was researching, I saw the prominent role of artificial intelligence in the modern world. All of a sudden, the puzzle pieces clicked; I could major in cognitive science, the interdisciplinary study of the mind and intelligence, to blend neuroscience, AI and political science. Although I may not be standing in the courtroom and enacting change through legal cases, I can still help build a better future with what I learn.

It wasn’t an easy decision to make, but it is one that I feel content with. I have learned that there doesn’t have to be a hard solution; I didn’t need to decide between one major or another. Instead, I forged a new path that bridges together my passions. I found a way to mix my two passions, and I can’t wait to see what the future holds. There doesn’t have to be a hard solution; no one needs to decide between one major or another.

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