As of January 7th, the spring semester of my senior year has begun. It’s been a little more than two weeks, and throughout my classes, I have learned two very important things about my academic career. In keeping with my recently blogged theme about education, I would like to explore each of these things one at a time. (Perhaps writing about it will help organize my thoughts as well.)
First, everything that I have experienced so far in my undergraduate career and everything that I will experience in the future as a medical student in medical school is essential for my growth as an independent adult. School is not just about learning; there are dozens of skills that a student learns throughout his or her education besides things like calculus and writing lab reports. Although I am required to take classes that I don’t particularly like (such as physics, which I finished last semester!), the things that I have and will learn in these classes will become tools for me to use not only as a student, but also as a medical professional in the real world. Skills like analytical thinking, problem-solving, and integrating pieces of information are crucial not only for solving physics problems, but also in piecing together seemingly irrelevant symptoms to deliver a diagnosis. Therefore, as a student, I believe that it is important to keep an open mind for all of the classes that I have left to take – as well as for future experiences I will surely encounter as I get older.
Second, everything I am learning as a student of the sciences is connected, and much more complex than I could ever begin to imagine. In my classes this semester, I have had three epiphany-like moments with this idea (thus far).
In my Cellular Metabolism class, one of the first things the professor said to us was that everything we learned about glycolysis and the Krebs Cycle – two of the pathways required for metabolism and inside cells – was wrong! At first, I was surprised; what was he talking about? Well, as it turns out, it wasn’t that my knowledge of these pathways was inherently wrong; rather, it was that I was treating them as separate processes. See, inside cells, these two pathways feed into each other and are interconnected. Therefore, as my professor said, we cannot treat these pathways (among thousands of others that occur in biological systems) as being in their own little boxes.
My second experience occurred in yet another class that I’m taking this semester: Ecology. I was not particularly thrilled to take this class, as I didn’t particularly like Biology II (a prerequisite for Ecology). However, I’m surprised to say that I find this class interesting and more relevant to my future as a physician more than I did previously. From this class thus far, I learned that the lives of organisms are not only affected by their environment, but also by other organisms, and that separating these living and non-living factors from each other in order to study them completely is virtually impossible. Why? Because once again, these factors interact with one another and with living organisms in ways that we cannot completely understand.
Last but not least, my most recent epiphany occurred in my Honors College class. This particular class is about global sustainability, and it is taught by 11 different faculty from the Patel College of Sustainability. I consider myself privileged to be taught by these professors, as they only ever teach Masters and PhD students; this semester is the first time that this class has been offered. In the first lecture, which was presented by the Patel College’s Dean, I learned that the “big three” resources essential for human survival are water, food, and energy, and that in our world, they cannot be treated individually. For example, in order to transport water, energy is required. The food we grow also requires water, and transporting it also requires energy. Managing water, food, and energy as resources is an interdisciplinary effort that requires cooperation from everyone involved in each “sector,” so to speak. Engineers and farmers need to work together, because what they do is connected; even if they appear to speak different languages, their work is the same. Why? Because they are seeking to establish the same thing: resources for our survival.
It has been 4 years since I started my university education, and I believe that I have come a long way in my mentality and maturity. I am quite excited and optimistic for this semester’s experiences, and I hope that I can continue to grow and learn not only as a student, but as a person.
Thank you for reading! :)