Honors 100 Portfolio Statement
When I first arrived at the University of Washington, I thought I was sure about everything: who I was, what I wanted to study, the career I wanted to pursue. I believed that I wanted to be a doctor. I had believed this since the summer before sixth grade, when I discovered a love for medicine in my aunt and uncle’s acupuncture clinic. Since I was twelve, I had been sure that becoming a doctor was what I was meant to do. And when I arrived at UW I didn’t expect that to change. I was wrong.This quarter I enrolled in Chemistry 142, a basic general chemistry class for science majors, and the first stepping-stone to many pre-med science requirements. I have never taken such a difficult class in my life. After doing quite poorly on my first midterm exam, I began to wonder whether a pre-med track was something I actually wanted to pursue. Although I knew if I put every ounce of emotional and mental energy I had into succeeding in the pre-med course requirements, I could probably fulfill the prerequisites to apply to medical school. And at first, that is what I thought I would do: simply squeeze my eyes shut, grind my teeth and bear it. However, as I continued through the quarter, I realized I don’t want to simply have to put up with what I am pursing. I want to spend the next four years happy, rather than perpetually stressed. After coming to this realization, I felt lost, like everything I had been sure about up until this point had disappeared. And that is when I first went to my honors advisor to seek advice.
Over the next month, I went to see my advisor a lot, averaging at least one visit a week. I was confused, and was constantly changing my mind: did I want to major in Medical Anthropology; what kind of job could I get with that major; what about my dreams of going into medicine, should I give that up completely; what if I went into psychology; what about becoming a nurse; should I perhaps take no science classes winter quarter? I found going to advising meetings helped soothe my worries. I felt encouraged and supported through each of my short-lived tangents regarding what I wanted to do with my life, regardless whether they were plausible or not.
In the midst of my confusion, I was given an assignment in my Honors “What We Know and How We Know It” class that would change how I looked at my predicament. We were told to write a personal narrative about who we are and what be believe. It was through this assignment, which proved for me to be deeply reflective and emotional, that although I was discouraged by my chemistry grade, I did not want to give up my dream of going into medicine. Maybe becoming a doctor was not my path, but I wasn’t ready to completely give up my dreams. That is when I visited my advisor again. Together we came up with a new plan. After looking at the prerequisites for a nursing degree, I decided that that was what I was interested in pursuing. I became excited, because although I am required to take two more quarters of chemistry, is it the chemistry for non-science majors, and should be a better fit for my learning style. The other requirements peaked my interest too: human anatomy, physiology, nutrition, health and development. I finally felt as if I had found my way again.
My experience in Chemistry 142, and all the changes which it brought with it, has taught me a lot about myself. As a girl who was always sure about everything, I was surprised by my resilience after it felt like everything I had dreamed about had disappeared in an instant. I found support through my honors community, both living on the Honors Floor in Lander, as well as through the Honors Advising services. I am glad I struggled in chemistry this quarter. It forced me to examine what I want out of my education and my future, and ultimately I think I am stronger and more confident for it. By the end of my first year at UW I hope to have a steady job in a hospital or clinical environment, gaining a first-hand understanding of the work nurses do. By the end of my four years at UW, I hope to have completed an honors degree in nursing (BSN). I am excited and happy for what the future entails.
Honors 496 Learning Statement
I began my time at UW with only one path in mind, and I believed it was the plan I would stick to: march straight through the pre-med classes; continue immediately into medical school; and then straightaway step into a full time career. I thought if I could figure out a way to graduate early, that would be even better. I was in a rush to finish before I had even begun. While I am still pursuing a career in the medical sciences, the track I have chosen, and the journey I have travelled to get here is a lot different than I imagined during my first quarter at UW. When I decided to change from pre-med to a pre-nursing track winter quarter of my freshman year, I still viewed my plan in the same “lock-step” fashion as before, simply replacing the types of pre-requisite classes with which I would fill my schedule. I planned to apply to nursing school fall of my sophomore year, be admitted (of course), and graduate in four years with a Bachelors of Science in Nursing (BSN). I never entertained the thought of what might happen if something went wrong.
As part of the application to the UW BSN program, each applicant is required to submit a letter of recommendation. Being the somewhat over prepared and anxious person that I am, I, of course, had my letter of recommendation lined up months in advance. However, two days before the application was due, I found out the woman who had agreed to write my letter was no longer able to do so. Without a letter, I was no longer eligible to apply to the program. Unlike most majors, the nursing program at UW only admits students once a year. In the blink of an eye I was learning an unexpected and difficult lesson is in making the best of an unfortunate situation. Although this marked one of my worst times at UW, I think it was also perhaps my most pivotal moment. Being unable to apply to the nursing program forced me to explore opportunities and interests that I never would have done if not for this unfortunate turn of events. On somewhat of a whim, I decided to apply to the Public Health major. And to my surprise I was admitted. I spent the next year surrounding myself in public health course work. While I was not dissuaded from continuing to pursue my passion for the health sciences, being a public health student did change the way I viewed myself as a future health worker.
Until the beginning of March 2014, I had every intention of graduating from UW Spring of my junior year with a degree in Public Health. However, that all changed when I received my acceptance letter from the UW BSN program. I have since decided to postpone my graduation, and pursue a double degree in Public Health and Honors Nursing. I am now on the five-year-track, and looking back I would not want it any other way. I know now that before I can be a great nurse I need to be well educated, not just well trained. And thanks to the unfortunate letter of recommendation debacle, I now have the opportunity to be both.