As a sophomore in college, it sometimes feels odd to give advice to prospective and new students. Truthfully, most days I feel as if I’m still in your shoes: standing at the edge of what most people consider to be a massive choice. That’s not to say that these past two years of college have been without growth – quite the opposite! I started college expecting to be a pre-med neuroscience major, and I now find myself pursuing a dedicated thesis intertwining fields of psychology, philosophy, and medicine with a greater understanding of what it means to view healthcare as a nuanced practice. But growth is not stagnant. Navigating college is a sustained process of learning both academically and personally, then moving on to the next lesson. This is what it means to be open to exploration.
Navigating college is a sustained process of learning both academically and personally, then moving on to the next lesson. This is what it means to be open to exploration.
I committed to Pitt because they offered stellar programs and opportunities for every aspect of my college life I had planned. The campus’ proximity to medical centers and innovation makes it a pre-medical student’s paradise, our neuroscience department opens doors to studying everything from cognitive to purely neurobiological work, and the extracurricular opportunities are vast and welcoming. These are elements of Pitt that I appreciate, but they are not the full story. Visiting Pitt for an Accepted Honors Day, I was inspired by students who possessed a specific and driven vision of their future. I knew Pitt Honors would help me achieve that level of nuanced understanding of my goals and interests. I’m happy to say that was true; two years later, I can look back and see the immense growth I have experienced in my view of my intended field. Yet, I didn’t anticipate that this growth would mean refining my course plan and pursuing interests I either didn’t know yet or didn’t know could be a pathway to my goals.
I declared a psychology major in the fall of my sophomore year, now accompanied by a certificate in the Conceptual Foundations of Medicine. This combination allows me to devote time to pre-medical requirements and to embrace the application of these requirements to real human beings worthy of care and sustained quality of life. In her novel Narrative Medicine: Honoring the Stories of Illness, Rita Charon writes, “A medicine practiced without a genuine and obligating awareness of what patients go through may fulfill its technical goals, but it is an empty medicine, or, at best, half a medicine” (6). This quote drives my view of medicine, now supported in my studies of the medical humanities and other interests I didn’t know I could explore before the environment of Pitt empowered me.
This drives my view of medicine, now supported in my studies of the medical humanities and other interests I didn’t know I could explore before the environment of Pitt empowered me.
The University Honors College supports this level of exploration with unparalleled tenacity and passion. This is a stellar community and environment for all interested in pursuing their interests at a higher level. Do not be afraid to step outside of the box, even – or perhaps especially – when it’s a box or vision you have created for yourself. Do not be afraid to seek out support, guidance, and resources in this process; Pitt Honors has them abundantly.