When I was little, I dreamed of being everything. I wanted to be an astronaut, an animal rescuer, a dancer, and anything else that came to mind. My young mind was still malleable enough to allow me the capacity to learn and perfect skills I could use for life as an adult someday. I had the world at my feet, which gave me the chance to be whatever I wanted to and to accomplish whatever goal I had. Now, I still have the opportunity to choose from a variety of options, of which I’ve worked hard and am incredibly thankful for. But growing up I realized more of my limitations, and reality hit me around the age of thirteen. What am I going to be? Will I be successful? What does success even mean to me?
I know 13 years old is really young to be thinking these things. But 13 year old Corrine thought through everything. She would become a marine biologist with a graduate school degree, live along the coast, walk on the beach first thing every morning, get married at 26 or 27 and have a child a year after. I knew how I wanted to live and I thought I had everything figured out. Most of the adults who crossed my path told me that I am “wise beyond my years” and that I have “the mind of a successful thirty year old.” Of course back then I was a little offended, I’m thirteen, I’m just a teenager. But now I realize that it was a compliment. They saw that I had wisdom most teenagers didn’t have. They had basically told me that I already had what it takes to be a successful adult despite my age. I was proud of myself for having a dream that I would make a reality. Then, senior year of high school rolled around.
Senior year is one of the biggest stepping stones in a teenager’s life. You pick your college, you decide on a career, you begin adulthood. I figured it would be a breeze. I knew what I wanted to do and where I wanted to go. I had stuck with being a marine biologist for over five years, surely I could do it for the rest of my life. But when the time finally came, I questioned it. What are the odds that I can actually be a marine biologist? What do I even do? Thoughts swam in and out of my mind, I can’t tell you how many different occupations I imagined myself doing. And it was quite frustrating. I had this dream for years of being out on the ocean, and that dream quickly faded into a hazy, gray blur. I didn’t know what I wanted anymore, and application deadlines, accepting a school, and graduation were quickly approaching. I was running out of time.
Now, let me bring you back to present day. So I decided on a school after all, and chose to start my college career on a safer level with University of Pittsburgh at Greensburg. Coming from a small town, I figured it would be easier for me to start small and, if I wished, I could transfer to main campus (still debating). What I was unsure of was my major. What would I specialize in? I didn’t want to be one of the undecided students, so I immersed myself in Chemistry. I was always good at it, so I thought it would be a good start. As I told more and more people about it, they would ask me what could I do with a chemistry degree. To be honest, I had absolutely no idea. I began to question myself yet again and became frustrated once more. Luckily, I had a pretty awesome chemistry professor, Dr. McClendon. Dr. McClendon and I had a conversation about my major. She could see my uncertainty and made a suggestion. Biochemistry. I had always thought biochemistry was only for those who wanted to be doctors someday, but after a little more research I found that there was so much more to it. I could be a forensic scientist (my current #1 option), a biochemical engineer, a disease control biologist, even a marine biologist! I realized in having that conversation that I was looking for an option too narrow for me to fit into. If I could open my mind I could give myself room to be what I truly wanted to be in the realm of science. Dr. McClendon, if you are reading this, thank you for making the suggestion. Without you, I wouldn’t be as confident as I am now in my major.
More or less, the moral of this story is to let your dreams come to you and broaden your horizons. Work hard, earn your way, and you can do absolutely everything you set your mind to.
All my love,