Dear First Gen,
There is lots of reading in college and continues to be even more voluminous in graduate school.
The final year of college was an interesting time for me. I was a pre-med student, but I was not headed to medical school. I suddenly found myself wondering, “Where do I go? What do I do now? Should I find a job or attend a graduate program?”
During winter break, I began to map out my next steps. I spoke with my mother about my options since I was not going to be a medical student the following year. She could not give me an answer during our conversation, but reassured me that an opportunity would present itself.
I was unaware at that time that she planned to do some research on my behalf, and she later shared what she found. She came across several master’s programs that created a path to help me enter medical school, as well as several policy programs. She assisted in the only way she knew to help relieve my feelings of despair.
After I reviewed the list of programs she had found, I applied to several and visited their campuses during orientation. I sat down with my mother again and told her about my likes and dislikes for each of the programs. She primarily liked Georgetown University’s M.S. in Biomedical Policy & Advocacy Program because it was close to home, while I liked the courses and the fact that it was a one-year program. This program matched my interests in policy and the sciences.
I was impressed that my mother picked this program, and proud of her for having listened to me for several years and researching programs that would enhance my qualifications and pique my intellectual curiosity.
Prior to graduating from college in 2007, I received an acceptance letter for the Georgetown program and was beyond ecstatic. This was the bridge I needed to connect me to public policy while enhancing my passion for the sciences.
During the program, I developed my writing skills for a non-scientific community, deepened my understanding of communications of emergency situations and emerging public health issues, and learned how science could revitalize the U.S. economy.
When I was at that crossroads my senior year, my parents did not know how to advise me. But my mother knew she had a resource…the internet! She sat at the home computer until she found results that might work as a “filler” before I went on to medical school. My plans for medical school ultimately changed, but my graduate education was a springboard for the doctorate program I chose.
In graduate school, I learned two main lessons:
These steps helped me to interact with my peers who were uncertain about the opportunities beyond an undergraduate education by linking up with professionals that sought to help us rise up or provide insight on how we could maximize our master’s degree to enter different positions.
Tell me: Which program are you considering and why haven’t you said yes?
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