The Fire That Burns Within
Length: 972 words (2.8 double-spaced pages)
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The Fire That Burns Within
"...we but level that lift to pass and continue beyond." Walt Whitman, "Now I Will You to Be a Bold Swimmer," Song of Myself.
I never really thought about how one's childhood continues to shape one's future. When I was young it never crossed my mind to say, "I wanna be a medical doctor of endocrinology when I grow up" or "I wanna be a biomedical researcher at A&M University." It was, of course, always "I wanna be a fireman" or "I'm gonna be an astronaut." Somewhere along the line I became interested in science, and now I want to become a doctor. From looking back on my past all I can figure out is that my interest in science grew the more I learned. I see it as this burning fire that started out as a spark when I went to my first science fair in second grade and saw all those experiments written out and displayed on tri-folded poster board cut-outs. Now I try to feed that flaming fire of curiosity by learning as much as possible about everything, yet I also need to stay focused and concentrate on this future in medicine. In short, I need to become an ideal student.
In my opinion, the ideal student is one who always asks questions, consistently yearning to know what is unknown to him or her. The ideal student is smart and always wondering and thinking about something. This ideal student doesn't necessarily need to be totally organized, yet that student shouldn't be sloppy either. For instance, I can be really smart, always ask questions, always be thinking, but I could be so disorganized I couldn't even find my homework. An ideal student is a curious student, constantly pondering and frequently trying to communicate these thoughts to others. "A scholar is driven by a force as strong as his curiosity, that compels him to tell the world the things he has learned," says Edmund S. Morgan, of Yale University, in his paper "What Faculty Expect of Students."
I do not think I am Morgan's ideal student. I only meet a few of the requirements. I do, however, think quite a bit.
Most of the time I think so much that I start to analyze every little thing. My friends used to call me "Counselor" because I would always be on the same thought after my friends had already started discussing another topic. This habit can have a few negative social consequences, but it can be advantageous in the long run. Constant pensiveness can help to maintain a good overview on life and career plans. Long-range plans often get lost in the specifics of college (prerequisites, non-major courses, etc), and dealing with day-to-day problems may ultimately cause students to take a left when they were supposed to take a right at the crossroads of their academic life. I was explaining this idea to a friend, after I got back from a Pre-Med/Pre-Dent meeting. I observed how a weekly meeting helps me to step back and take a better look at my daily activities in light of my ultimate career plans and goals as a doctor. The meeting helps me to realize that I need to do things like volunteer at a hospital to obtain good people skills, get a research job to pick up good laboratory skills, and study concepts and topics that may appear on the MCAT (Medical College Admissions Test). I want to do this not just to be building a resume now, but to fulfill the ideals that drew me toward science in the first place.
In addition to this long-range view I need to focus on my day-to-day academic behavior. I don't always take advantage of class, and I don't usually ask questions when I should. I do, at times, crave to learn. Unfortunately, I don't always feel in the mood to do research, but when a topic pertains to my interests, I pursue it with full force. For example, in my anatomy/physiology class, I chose to research the topic of amyotophic lateral sclerosis (also known as Lou Gehrig's Disease). This topic was especially interesting to me because my father had just been diagnosed with this specific muscle degenerative disease. I spent a week poring through every reseource I could find in the Alked Library. During my research period, I was feeding my "fire" of interest for science. And I have been trying to do the same ever since.
I could apply this experience to other subjects of study, like English, General Studies, or History. For instance, I could write an informative essay for English on how the small town of Love Canal, New York, was declared a disaster area after the carcinogens dioxin and benzene leaked into the community's ground water and soil. This type of paper would most definitely satisfy my pursuit of science and my English professor's desire to teach me to write effectively. Most importantly it would make me want to learn.
So far, I feel that I don't fit my own criteria for ideal student. Because of my shyness and perfectionism I frequently get sidetracked and frustrated, or I keep to myself, all of which hinders me from working my hardest. I do, however, feel that although I'm not an ideal student, I work diligently most of the time on my academic subjects. In order to make this work meaningful, one must have something to look forward to, something that puts a fire into learning, a vision that motivates one to continue struggling, every day, in pursuit of knowledge. Being an ideal student must become a lifetime habit. In the words of Walt Whitman, "You must habit yourself to the dazzle of the light and every moment of your life."