I came to Tufts adamant that I was going to prepare myself for veterinary school; I expected that my major, and most of my elective classes, would be catered to that goal in some way, shape, or form. In fact, I entered into sixth grade knowing I wanted to be a veterinarian when I grew up. Instead of wanting Lego sets for gifts, I opted to ask for suturing kits and dissection books because I loved the idea of working towards my ultimate career goal in any way that I could. I even attended a summer program at the Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts; that’s how devoted I was to this goal. So when I finally came to Tufts — “One step closer to vet school,” I found myself thinking — the only ‘obvious’ choice was to major in Biology and find a potential minor that would compliment that.
I religiously stuck to that plan for about a month, concocting my first-semester classes to align smoothly with the pre-health track. Then one ordinary Monday, while my friend and I were in one of the lounges doing homework and studying for exams, everything I thought I knew was challenged. We were accompanied in the lounge by one of the FYAs (First-Year Assistants) who was majoring in Cognitive Brain Sciences and, seeing that I was studying for (and stressing over) my Intro to Psychology exam and knowing that I was attempting to create my own language from scratch in my free-time (a hobby that I’ve taken up), we started talking.
Flash forward a couple hours and it was now 3 a.m. and, though I knew I had an 8:30 class later in the morning, I was anything but tired. I was intrigued. Over the course of the conversation, we had managed to uncover and unfold an interest I knew I had, but never thought of expanding on: linguistics. We talked about the development of language in humans as a society and as individuals, the similarities and differences of languages across the globe, and how, very interestingly, we are human because we have language.
Stepping back from the details of the conversation, that night taught me something that I will never forget: don’t lose sight of your interests, hobbies, and aspirations outside of your career goals. My passion for creative writing, my interest in linguistics, my love for paleontology — the things that serve as a break from the hardships of school — shouldn’t be buried under school itself.
Yes, I still want to be a veterinarian. Yes, I will always love animals and want to dedicate my career to their well-being. And yes, I have to take certain courses to fulfill my pre-requisite requirements for vet school. But college is just as much a time for academic exploration as it is for academic growth. It’s totally okay to come in with a plan, but keep an open mind. Don’t be afraid to take a course just because it seems interesting. Don’t be afraid to take a course you never even thought you would be taking. But most of all, don’t get so bogged down on fulfilling requirements that you lose sight of what makes you happy and gets you motivated.