Exploring Biology in Watershed: An Engineer’s Story

Moving from the dry desert lands to the great lake state of Michigan was a tough choice.  But coming from a very science-oriented high school, it wasn’t difficult for me to see the immense number of undergraduate research opportunities that were available here at Hope. I initially found out about the Watershed program when I sat down with an admissions representative during my first visit in April 2017. I had seen the web-page prior to visiting, but It wasn’t until then that I could envision myself as part of such an immersive program.

In high school, I was on an engineering path. I was also part of the robotics team all four years and it seemed natural for me to consider engineering programs while searching for schools. But in my senior year, I began to question whether engineering was really the career path for me. Since all my classes were based in engineering and physics, I’d never had the opportunity to explore chemistry or biology. Watershed seemed like the perfect opportunity for me to experience chemistry and biology in a unique fashion instead of taking the standard intro labs. I can definitely tell you I have not regretted my decision to this day.

I spent much of my first semester trying to decide what I wanted to study and major in, thinking more about chemistry and biology rather than engineering. For the first time in my life, I was working with live organisms and aseptic techniques instead of large mechanical parts and electric systems. Watershed also gave me the opportunity to apply research methods and techniques to real-world challenges which made the labs even more enjoyable, although stressful at times. But over time, I realized that I missed being able to work with nuts and bolts. I remember passing by the engineering lab one day, watching the engineering students work on vehicle motors, and wishing I was in there with them. As much as I enjoyed my time growing colonies of E. coli, I missed engineering even more.

Although I realized that engineering had been the right path all along, I do have to thank the Day 1 Watershed program for allowing me to be part of such a unique experience. Watershed not only reaffirmed my passion and love for science but also gave me a whole new perspective of what implications our actions have for the natural world. It was a good chance to step back and get a new perspective. Thank you, Watershed, for a life-changing experience.

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