What my college experience was like?
The one general statement I can make about my life through college is that I am a completely different person now than in my freshman year, due primarily to the knowledge that I’ve gained both inside and outside of the classroom. Some of my best experiences have been with the people I’ve met in student organizations and “specialty” classes. It is amazing how easily college can bring together groups with similar interests and goals, which can then increase your learning experience exponentially!
When did I realize I wanted to major in STEM?
I knew in middle school that I love science—especially anything to do with animals. I continued to enjoy biology in high school, and chose to take biology courses in college (even when I already had enough science credits). I had to “learn to love” chemistry, since math wasn’t my greatest subject, but then I realized that psychology had quite a lot to do with biology as well! (And less to do with advanced math!) I still love both biology and chemistry areas, and thankfully I can use them in my everyday practice of prescribing and diagnosing illnesses.
The most rewarding thing I do?
The best part of my day is when a patient (or anyone I can help) tells me that they finally feel better. When someone who has felt out of control of their life, moods, and behaviors finally experiences success, it is the most rewarding event of my day.
What to tell a middle/HS girl about STEM careers?
No matter what STEM career you choose, you will never be faced with boredom in your work. Furthermore, your activities each day will never feel like real “work!” The research and knowledge in STEM careers is constantly changing and developing with the growing evidence of practice in each field. If you truly enjoy your work, then you will continuously be excited to discover new knowledge that will change the nature of what you do.
How to prepare for college and STEM careers?
Begin as soon as possible requesting STEM-based classes in middle and high school, and never be afraid to push yourself to succeed in even the most difficult classes and assignments. Take advantage of any “advanced” classes that are offered—they usually provide a better teacher-to-student ratio, which will give you more access to the teacher’s knowledge and attention.
Advice for teachers and counselors?
Never give up on students who express an interest in a STEM specialty, or any means of furthering their education! Even if you question a student’s ability to excel in a subject, he/she deserves your full support and guidance. This is especially true if the student does not have a strong social support base at home, or even in school. If they have difficulty believing in themselves, the best and most helpful messages you can give are ones of support, self-worth, and confidence!
Career advice in 2 minutes?
Always remain open-minded about your career choice and path. Many times when we follow the path of our initial major or career, we find that it is not all we expected. Or, we can sometimes choose a career and feel confident in our choice, to only learn about different avenues that also interest us later. This is normal for everyone—it means that we are well-rounded human beings with diverse skills and interests. This should be taken as a new opportunity to modify your original plans, and may evolve into something that you love but never knew existed!
Never allow anyone to lower your beliefs about your abilities. You may be faced with classes, assignments, projects, internships, and professors that make you think, “Can I really do this?” But the answer should always be the same: “Of course I can!” If another human in this world has done whatever lies ahead of you before, then you can be sure that it can be done again. Job description of a Psychiatric/Mental Health NP (PMHNP):