This I Believe

Jeni - Greenville, North Carolina
Entered on September 23, 2008
Age Group: 18 - 30

I was nine years old when the first person ever asked me, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” Sitting in a crowded immigration office, I told the lady that I wanted to be a cardiologist. I was happy to see the look of pride on my parents’ faces. From that moment on, I told everyone who would listen that I wanted to become a heart surgeon. My parents bought me children’s pop-out medical encyclopedias and the game “Operation”. I believe they would have supported me in any decision I had made about my future.

I spent the summer before my sophomore year in high school as a Junior Volunteer in one of the biggest hospitals in my region. In my interview I had expressed great interest in working with cardiac patients, so I was placed, for most of the day, in the Cardiac Intensive Care Unit. After one week, I detested it. I couldn’t stand the sound of geriatric patients moaning in pain and spending hours looking at their iodine covered bodies. I left the hospital every afternoon saddened by what I had seen. I knew then, cardiology was not for me. I wish I had shared that feeling with my family early on, maybe then things would have turned out differently.

I was also stationed on the Pediatric floor that summer. I ended up shirking my duties at the cardiac unit to play with the kids on the peds floor. I decided I wanted to be a Pediatrician. Another choice my parents whole heartedly supported.

I started college with the intent of becoming Biology major on the pre-med track. A path I had told everyone, even myself, I wanted to follow. Although, I wanted to major in science, my skills in that area were lacking. I had gotten by in high school, but college was a whole new world. There was only help if you sought it, and being the shy freshman I was, I didn’t. Since grades were never sent home, my parents just assumed I was doing fine.

I tried to change my major once, but my parents would not hear of it. At this point, they believed they needed to push me to finish this track because I had come so far and I had wanted this so badly. I was to finish college with my biology degree and take my MCAT and apply to medical school. It was a plan I had made up for myself and the only plan they were comfortable with.

Like any angry, frustrated teen, I rebelled. I spent an entire year blowing my parents money by not going to class and failing out of school. Afraid of the wrath of my parents, I kept my suspension a secret for as long as I could. When I finally broke the news to them, I felt a sense of relief. They were angry, hurt, disappointed, and felt completely betrayed.

I had done a terrible thing, but I had finally come clean to them and although they were angry, they helped me figure out what I really wanted to do and they supported me in my decision. I am back in school now and getting a degree in child development and family relations. I would never have had the ability to make this decision without my family. It was like the impossible had become the possible and I know now that I can depend on my family to stick by my side when things get rough and help me ride out the storm.