Patrick Finneran, 2010, Waltham, MA
What are you up to? I'm going into my third year of my PhD program for Biochemistry and Biophysics at Brandeis University. For the most part, I work in a research lab and take very few classes. I do research that uses the study of evolution to better understand problems faced in different types of cancer on the level of proteins and molecular interactions.
I've also recently had the chance to drive across the country with my girlfriend and see all the major places I've wanted to see in the United States.
To me, biochemistry and traveling are just different ways to learn more about the world.
How'd you get here? I was lead to think that I wasn't going to succeed if I studied chemistry. For many of my high school classes, I rarely did my homework and some teachers never saw me as one of the best students. No one ever had to directly say it, but it was implied. Statements would be made about the types of students that succeed in college and I never felt like one of them. This had a large impact on me.
I had a very positive experience with psychology in high school and I enjoyed it a lot. So, I went to college as a psychology/Pre-Med major at Western Connecticut State University. Within less than a year I learned I was not in the right program and switched to major in chemistry, which is what I really wanted to do. Eventually, I joined a brand new lab in the department and did biochemistry research for about 2 years. I worked on a research project focused on malaria. Eventually, I applied to a few grad schools and found the one that offered exactly what I was looking for in a program.
What are your goals? I've been changing my goals and making them up as I go along; that's the fun part. One year ago, I would have said I wanted to teach at a college for undergraduates. Right now, I've been thinking about working at a law firm and going to law school to work in intellectual property law for biotech companies. My family will most likely laugh at me if I keep going to school.
Advice for WHS Students? Don't let others influence your opinion of yourself. If you want to do something; go for it. College gives you more motivation than what high school gives you. Also, talk with others about your problems. In my PhD program, every student has a different strength and weakness and it's helpful when we remind each other that both science and life are hard and we can't be perfect so we shouldn't stress out so much.
What is your greatest weakness? Laziness
Do you have questions about chemistry, road-tripping, or college? You can contact Patrick via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.