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The Road to Rediscovery

Ian Chiu, Austin, TX

 

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The odor of sweet-scented alcohol filled the gloomy atmosphere of my sixth-block classroom. As I carefully reviewed the notes of the procedure I had taken the day before, I couldn’t help but anticipate the wonders of exploring a sheep’s heart. The thought of the myriad of functions of the aorta or the minuscule capillaries made my hands itch as I was finally able to grasp a more tangible understanding of the health science field. So many of my peers had described the stench to be horrendous and the process to be visually gruesome, but I couldn’t imagine the fact that my partner later told me how my eyes glowed when the teacher set the heart in my plate.

Ever since I was young, curiosity rested at the tips of my fingers. From building a net to catch seasonal Monarch butterflies that flew through my front yard to learning the violin, I always had a desire to want to learn more. I was never taken seriously by many of my close friends, even by my younger sister, when I said “I like going to school” but I tentatively continued to explore the medley of my interests.

However, the second I stepped into school as a sixth-grader, I realized that perhaps my sister was right. Even the friends that I thought either supported my interests or had similar interests themselves began to abandon me. Enamored by Instagram and Snapchat rather than geometry and subatomic particles, the student body’s interests clearly differed from my own; Slowly, I began to stray away from my previous passions and started to involve myself with whatever others seemed to care about.

Entering high school, my desire to discover continued to wane due to the pressures of maintaining grades, participating in extracurriculars, and having a social life. The summer prior, I had hesitantly chose Biomedical Science as an elective. So I asked myself,

Did I really want to take this class? Was I prepared for additional homework outside of my already stressful course load?

These thoughts laid convoluted through the summer of my freshman year, hindering my abilities to go escape from the arduous preparations for SAT and the more-notably dreaded AP Human Geography class.

Yet in that same summer, a visit to my aunts and uncles in Buffalo, New York magnified my perspectives on the outlook of my career and relieved my anxiety for the upcoming school year. Retired after several successful years in the medical field, they had newfound peace in their homes away from a busy life. My father whispered to me on the plane ride that it may be days in before they would go shopping or even take a walk. With serendipitous courage, I knocked on my uncle’s door to introduce myself after more than a ten year’s absence.

"Come on in”, my uncle exclaimed.

"Hey uncle!” I smiled as I extended my hand graciously. At a tender age of 65, I was surprised to see he had maintained such a firm grip.

"So what are you up to today?” he asked inquisitively.

"Nothing much, just wanted to ask you some stuff about being a doctor and all,” I replied truthfully without eye contact. I knew I had found the right person to talk to when I saw smile begin to creep onto his face.

In the midst of an ardent explanation as to how a typical day went in his “young life”, I was simply mesmerized. Succinct yet intricate was his reminiscence of his most cherished moments. With an orchestrated movement of eyebrows and spasm of hand gestures, I tried desperately to connect the never-ending information about the processes of “assessing the patient’s health condition” and “how make sick patients comfortable”.

Upon looking at his face, I knew he finally found comfort after so many years of worrisome hiding. To see his shining eyes dart left and right in search for simple terms that a 14 year old would understand rather than terms such as “complex caring” and “weekly diagnostics” and explain his passion, I was humbled to have even been a relative to him. Later I realized that this lively exchange wasn’t only meant for me to gain insight for my potential aspirations. Seeing my uncle talk to me in such an illustrious manner after such a prolonged period of time, I felt embarrassed to have buried my desire to learn in the past few months.

Maybe I was shy, or unconfident, or maybe even scared then, but after our shared moment, my naive perception of life was shattered. I was unique to have the thirst for knowledge and the drive to expand beyond the understandings that a typical adolescent would have. However, to conceal the creative identity that was so prominent was a deep mistake. If not stimulated, that part of me may not come back for years, much like my uncle. It may be luck that I had the chance to converse with him, but from that moment, no longer did I hesitate to involve myself whenever presented; there were significantly more conversations ignited, clubs joined, friends fostered, and eye contacts made.

It was delightful to be myself again.

Now as sit in my sixth-block biomedical class and pick up the scalpel used to dissect the sheep’s heart, I feel the same innate curiosity that I did when I first stitch up a worm I had accidentally sliced in half while digging for a hole when I was in elementary school.

Picking biomedical science wasn’t just the right academic choice. By approaching this class through the mindset of a child, eager to learn, rather than a disillusioned high schooler obsessed with his grades, my passion for learning has intensified and will be carried with me, regardless of my career choice.

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