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From Medicine to Science Education

By Miles Dijan

As an undergraduate student attending  a CUNY commuter school, I found myself quickly jaded by the process. Attending 8:00 am lectures and encountering the same, familiar crowd in the library —all cramming to study for the next Organic Chemistry Exam—before embarking on the trek to my internship in Morris Park, was both mundane and chaotic.

Looking back, spending three years as a Pre-Med student made me disenchanted and lethargic by college institutions altogether.

Don’t get me wrong. I graduate summa cum laude and with Honors. I was fortunate enough to have fruitful volunteer and job opportunities along the way. However, the stringent and uninspiring nature of following the Pre-Med curriculum made me feel like I was on autopilot. I often felt alone and beset with doubt. The institutional requirements hampered my social and emotional well-being, and at times, the number one item on my bucket list was waking up.

Needing an outlet, I re-established my love for running and my professional passion for working with children and teens.

That is when I found The Rockefeller University and RockEDU. At the time, I was in trenches of biochemical reactions and research papers, and I thought RockEDU would offer a less stressful and amicable environment for me to share my love for science. Beginning on day one, my expectations were drastically exceeded.

Even more so, I was inspired!

Walking through The Rockefeller University and basking in its historical significance magnifies the importance of relying on science and not falling prey to “alternative facts”. Moderating candid discussions and assisting on fundamental biology and chemistry experiments demystifies the “scariness” of the scientific method and allows students to explore the endless possibilities within the scientific field. In addition to assisting students as they conduct experiments, I appreciate the segment of the day where I get to share my personal career story and provide tips for success in college. This, above all, remains my favorite part.

Daily. I’ve witnessed RockEDU’s zealous stance on dismantling the socioeconomic, gender, and racial inequities within the science community translate to the hundreds of public school students that pass through the RockEDU lab. When these students join the RockEDU community, they are privy to a top notch laboratory, and a team of energized scientists that are eager to spread knowledge and answer questions.

I yearn for this unmatched environment of inclusivity and camaraderie. In addition to the many memorable experiences, RockEDU has been my life saver in so many ways. I do not know if I would have had the courage to switch career paths—from medicine to science education—without the wise words of encouragement and insight from the entire RockEDU team. In my personal life, as an undergraduate, I have also had a few bleak moments, and without a doubt, I would turn to RockEDU for guidance, direction and support. Throughout the many volunteer and work experiences I had—ranging from hospitals to schools—, no institution holds a candle to the RockEDU team. The RockEDU team is a family, and that translates from the moment you walk through the revolving doors.

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