Now in my senior year at UC Berkeley, I’ve come to realize that a lot of what I accomplished at this stage in my life differs starkly from where my original goals began. The summer before my freshman year of college, I dreamed about conducting research in a lab, spending hours poring over chemistry notes in a library and soaking up all of the knowledge from my professors during lectures. While the last one still remains true, I’ve definitely changed the trajectory of where I want my career to be. By listening to my gut and doing the things that make me the happiest, I’ve learned way more about myself and my true interests and passions.
Spending almost half of my college years quarantining at home helped me focus more on academics and guided me towards topics I was genuinely interested in studying rather than ones I felt like others expected me to study. After taking NST 10, I realized that nutrition takes on a much bigger and more complex role in our lives than what’s portrayed in the media. There’s more to it than just “get your greens in,” “consume protein after a workout” or “focus on calories in, calories out”.
I decided to change majors from molecular and cellular biology to nutritional sciences to further explore my burgeoning interest in nutrition and the human body. I was always intrigued by the reasoning behind nutritional labels in the grocery store. The various ways nutrients interact in the daily functioning of the body inspired curiosity within me from a young age, especially when I went vegan in high school and my doctor told me to up my vitamin B12 intake.
After I switched into the nutritional sciences: physiology and metabolism major, I soon realized that there was a whole other world of knowledge I never knew existed before. Taking classes that explained the science behind gluten intolerance or the various diets around the world fascinated me. I was actually excited to go to lecture and get answers which would satiate my curiosity.
However, there were definitely times when I felt like I was letting my freshman self down. 18-year-old me expected to stick to one straight linear path so that I could finish my degree as quickly as possible and not fall behind. In these moments, I had to keep reminding myself that it’s natural for our interests and goals to evolve and change. By choosing to switch majors, I was following the path that best aligned with what I wanted to do, which is ultimately doing what made me happy.
Sure I might’ve spent a significant amount of time taking a few classes I didn’t end up needing to take, but I don’t consider that a waste. Through the process of trial and error, I learned more about myself and what I wanted to do. For example, I found out that my passion wasn’t sitting in a lab all day and conducting research, but rather learning more about optimizing health through food. In my nutritional science classes, I’ve met so many new people that I can spend hours talking to about common interests all while learning that I can in fact make a career out of what I love.
It’s definitely a bittersweet feeling to acknowledge the changes I’ve gone through and the conversations I’ve had with myself about the field I want to pursue, but I wouldn’t change it for anything. The experiences and interactions I’ve had with classmates and professors throughout my time at UC Berkeley, both in the virtual and in-person settings, have allowed me to grow and thrive in an environment I never would’ve even discovered otherwise.