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Q1: I know I want to be a scientist or researcher, but I just want to help people and find cures for diseases or help people in general, by figuring out to make them walk again or anything like that, but what career would that be?

Hi, my name is Miracle and I’m about to start college in the fall, but I’m not sure what to major in and I was hoping that having a scientist answer my questions then that might give me some insight on what to major in. I know these aren’t ideal questions, but I’ve always loved science and science fiction in general, and I want to be a scientist and , I just don’t know what scientist to be. I want my career to be fulfilling and have purpose and to see my work help people. Thank you for your time.

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Elise’s Answer

Hi Miracle!

I think those are all great questions and to start off, I want to reassure you that there is a lot of time to think about what you want your career to be. College is a good way to learn about lots of different things, but I personally found that seeking out other opportunities like part-time jobs or volunteer work helped me figure out what I wanted to DO. I had a lot of interests in science growing up, especially veterinary science or marine biology (biology in general) so I also knew I wanted to be a scientist of some kind. Over time, I was able to narrow down what I enjoyed doing in the laboratory and found my niche in histology, even though I thought I was going to be a veterinarian.

There are loads of different things you can do in research, I personally am a histologist in breast cancer research, so the scope of research is quite immense because there are so many disciplines. You can work as a research in a university/academic setting or in a industry setting with other scientists usually developing new treatments, medication, diagnostics, etc. Because I think the scope of research and being a scientist is so large, I recommend when you are taking classes to think about not just what you like learning about, but what part of the laboratory or actual hands on work you like doing. Do you like dissections? Do you like working with chemistry and the idea of working with lab equipment? Maybe it's not all physical lab science you enjoy, but data analysis on the computer or coding? You also mention wanting to help people, so if you find that that is what drives you and is the most fulfilling thing, maybe you would enjoy hands on patient work, which could be like a physical therapist. I think in general a lot of science will help people, and finding a work environment where you feel supported and are able to continue to grow and learn and feel fulfilled is just as important as the work you do. It can definitely take time to find the right place to build your career, so internships in research labs might be a great avenue for you. I know that most universities have programs for undergraduate students that allow them to do lab work over the summer (try to find a paid one too, you should definitely be getting paid for putting in the work!)

I think it's a bit difficult to give super specific advice about what you should do in terms of picking a major, but I know I kept my major general biology with a chemistry minor, so I didn't get super specific because I wanted to be flexible in my ability to find work and figure out what I wanted to do (i.e. getting a general science degree allowed me to have the skills necessary for a variety of jobs). Sounds like human health/medical sciences is your field of interest.

I'm not sure if your able to ask follow up questions on careervillage but if you need more advice feel free to ask! My path to my career was a bit non-traditional, but I'll help as best as I can.
Thank you comment icon Thank you, this is really helpful. Deandra
Thank you comment icon Thank you for taking the time to help. Miracle
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Courtney’s Answer

Miracle, you have some admirable goals. There are many many roles to play in healthcare. Most academic institutions have programs other than medicine. They usually have a contact (admissions) to help guide interested students like yourself.

First thing i would say is NEVER lose that enthusiasm to help others.
Second, always ask those who have done that before you, like you are here. The paths to the same goal can be very very different.
Then the obvious stuff: the sciences is where you need to be, but please do not forget the arts, etc. It will do you good to be well rounded as a person for whatever you choose.
For now, do as best you can with everything that is asked of you as you make your way through chemistry and biology and physics and math etc.
Thank you comment icon Thank you, this is really helpful. Miracle
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Jason’s Answer

In addition to the ideas and suggestions listed above I would consider looking closely at a few specific items you can do more research on. I woyuld suggest checking out careers in the Public Health Sector. This is an area that covers what you are speaking of which can include Epidemiology, and specifically choosing an area to specialize in, such as mosquito borne diseases. You can also look in medical specialties such as Immunology, Virology, and Infectious Diseases.
To echo what others have said, keep up that enthusiasm and best of luck.
Thank you comment icon Thanks for the advice. Miracle
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Elizabeth’s Answer

Hi Miracle!

Interns from CVS Health here. There are a lot of ways to help different people out, so our suggestion for you would be to narrow down what part of helping people speaks most to you. There are lots of different college majors that support this goal... there is premed, nursing, biomedical engineering, and many more. Start off by taking a biology class in college and see if you like it from there. Another tip for you is to see if you can shadow someone in a career you are interested in, this way you can get a flavor of what it is really like, and start to narrow down your career search. Here are some possible careers to explore; physical therapy, occupational therapy, psychology, clinical research, physician, surgeon.
Thank you comment icon Thank you, Elizabeth! Miracle
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