Is Pursuing Biology Selfish?

– Written by Golgi –

Bachelor’s, master’s and doctorate’s degrees are words that my family is beginning to incorporate into their vocabulary. When he was twenty years old, my father illegally immigrated to the U.S from Mexico with little more than a dream of a better future for his unborn children. Eight of his ten siblings soon followed the same treacherous journey. Once in the U.S, they all experienced the limitations that came with not having an education. Consequently, my father instilled in all of his children the value of academics. As I strive to attain what my parents never had the chance to, I have the felt sense that this journey is not only mine, but also theirs. They risked their lives, and left friends and family and everything familiar, so that I could be where I am now. Every day, I see my parents’ story echoed in the faces of other hard-working immigrants. They endure long hours, unfair wages, dangerous working conditions, and open discrimination so that, someday, their children will have it better. No one should have to pay such a high cost.

I understand the sacrifices that were made for me, and as a result, I feel a deep sense of responsibility to give back to my community by choosing a career that allows me to ease the immigrant struggle.

Unfortunately, I feel my interest in science and research conflicts with this responsibility. To spend five to six years in a time warp researching a few very specific questions in biology seems self-indulgent. I can’t help feeling selfish when I think about pursuing a Ph. D in biology. I know that my community needs people in my position to get involved in issues that are affecting them now. Time and time again, I remind myself that, as a Mexican-American biologist, I am breaking boundaries and forging a path for others like me. Underrepresentation of minorities in science is an issue that directly affects my community and has far-reaching consequences. Children of immigrant parents are likely to attend schools with inadequate science courses. Thus, science is yet another frontier and this is my way of breaking ground for future generations. If I am going to be a voice for my community in the field of science, I need to be ready to speak up and endure, just as my parents did before me. My commitment to giving back to my community is validated by the prospect of representing them in the field of science and in doing so, possibly opening that path a little wider for those who come after me.

This entry was posted in Biology, Diversity, Graduate School, Increasing Diversity in Science, Lab Technician, Mentorship and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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