- Response Journal
- Published: 23 October 2013
If you are a senior, there are two questions you can expect to be asked at any given time on campus.
The first: “How’s your thesis going?”
This question is easier asked than answered. By November, some students have already altered the focus of their theses several times – often to the chagrin of thesis advisors. Those that know what they are doing haven’t necessarily done what they are doing. It is the typical senior thesis process: Get caught up in all kinds of other work and obligations for several months, suddenly realize, “Oh wait… that thesis thing… I should be doing that,” then freak out and scramble to meet the thesis deadlines you set with your advisors. No amount of planning can really prevent this from happening, as work obligations and unexpected distractions inevitably interfere.
However, Rockers are truly remarkable creatures. When under severe stress and obligated to complete copious amounts of work, the Rocker in its natural habitat is capable of sacrificing all sleep and consuming an ungodly quantity of caffeine to achieve its aims. This truly incredible display of perseverance – and insanity – distinguishes the Rocker from other related species. Somehow, we get things done.
The second question is even more agonizing: “What are you going to do after you graduate?”
Some seniors will be looking for work right after they graduate. Some are looking into graduate schools. Many, however, are really not sure what they will be doing. Given everything else that keeps seniors occupied, it is hard to even find the time to worry about that…too much.
This presents a problem when application deadlines are imminent. I think the general impression is that the final semester of Simon’s Rock is the hardest, because everybody is cramming to finish their theses. In actuality, I anticipate next semester being less hectic than this one, because I hopefully will not have to be filling out applications on top of my thesis and other work.
I am in the process of applying for MD/PhD programs in the Northeast. It took me quite some time to come to this decision. I long have had an interest in biology, but summer internships in genetics research labs did not convince me that I could solely do research as a career and not grow weary of the work.
My sense of direction unexpectedly became better defined during my semester abroad at the University of Glasgow in Scotland. There I took a course in Functional Anatomy designed specifically for premed students coming from the United States. Unlike most of my courses there, which were large, lecture-style classes of hundreds of students, Functional Anatomy mirrored my classes at Simon’s Rock, with just twenty students and an interactive teaching style that made me feel right at home.
That is, except for all of the dead bodies.
Worry not, dear reader, for although our class was held in a castle-like building at the University – and was accessed via a spiral staircase into the basement that could easily have been construed as a dungeon – we were not practicing macabre arts of any sort, or at least, nothing too macabre for science! What we were doing was examining cadavers. This allowed us to really visualize the material we were learning in the course (in what surely was the most effective way possible).
I enjoyed Functional Anatomy so wholeheartedly that I began to contemplate the possibility of pursuing medicine, and it was with that notion lingering in the back of my mind that I returned to Simon’s Rock for my second semester of junior year. As it happened, Premed Society, with which I was becoming more involved, had recently set up an arrangement wherein students could shadow physicians in various departments of the local Fairview Hospital in Great Barrington. Looking to see if my academic interest in medicine translated into a practical setting, I shadowed emergency room physicians for five seven-hour shifts towards the end of the semester. I found the experience to be absolutely fantastic, convincing me that I did in fact want to pursue medicine.
The question now became whether or not I had enough interest in research to pursue further training in addition to medicine. After returning this summer to one of the labs I had interned at during a previous summer, I had an enjoyable enough experience that I decided to pursue both MD and PhD degree programs. Fortunately, most medical schools seem to offer dual degree programs in that vein, leading me to where I am today: rather frazzled from all of the applications, but with a clear sense of direction. I suppose as a Simon’s Rock senior, you can’t ask for much more than that.