Samera: A Convoluted Journey to Science

Some people always knew what they were destined to do and vividly recall the exact moment in time that their life’s calling was revealed to them. I had no such epiphany and my journey to science has been convoluted to say the least. (Part of the reason for my consternation when asked to do this blog post.)

Like most people in science I was an inquisitive and precocious child and my favourite place in the whole world was the library. I was just as likely to read for hours on end about palaeontology as I was on obscure tribal customs (thanks National Geographics). I was as equally fascinated by monarch butterflies as I was with the physics behind rainbows or the history of Andalusia. I had a voracious appetite and my parents were all too happy to oblige. Many an afternoon was spent at the museum, on the couch with a book, or huddled on the floor of my room with my siblings during our weekly “dinosaur club” meetings. It will come as no surprise then that one of my most beloved childhood possessions was my encyclopaedia set, which I proudly propped up on the little table in my room and lovingly dusted every week.

My parents instilled in me an undying love of learning and encouraged – nay, demanded — that I continually challenge myself intellectually. My father bought us nearly every edition of Microsoft Encarta and my mother allowed us only to watch educational programming on TV. My favourites, like most science students, were Bill Nye the Science guy, and Inquiring Minds.

At this juncture I should probably say I started pursuing science to the exclusion of all else, but that was never the case. Although I yearned to understand how things around me worked and to make sense of it all, I was also happy doing purely artistic things. As a result some of my proudest childhood memories include 1st place in an art competition, many lead roles in school plays and writing and reciting poetry.

I did well in all subjects and although I was fortunate enough to attend a very academically-oriented high school, by the end of the tenth grade I was no closer to selecting one subject over another. After much deliberation I chose commerce as my specialization (I had been doing general math and science up until that point and was eager to explore something different) so I spent the next two years engrossed in business studies, accounting, and economics. Although I excelled in commerce (I was the valedictorian for the commerce stream) I realized that I missed science — the thrill of being able to apply a newly learned principle experimentally, the satisfaction that came with understanding the world around you, and the opportunity to better the world through discoveries and advancements that would progress humankind. I began to envision a career where I carried out cutting-edge research that would improve people’s quality of life. A mentor or two and a few science courses later I found myself enrolled in the B.Sc. Hon. Biopharmaceutical Sciences program.

Throughout my education I have encountered notable and inspiring individuals. My 5th grade librarian (who allowed me to borrow books everyday even though we only had library class once a week) and my undergraduate thesis supervisor, who went above and beyond his duties and gave me guidance and confidence when I needed it most, are some examples. I look forward to the future with excitement and everyday I am closer to the realization of my ultimate goal.

 

Samera Mattan

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