Back to Top

Smart or heart: Being intelligent shouldn't prevent you from doing what you love

A pair of goggles rests next to a reporter's notebook and a pen. Picking up a minor in multimedia journalism helped me realized that being a journalist can be just as challenging as being a chemist. (Northern Review photo/ Emily Richards)

ONU has a record of admitting students with competitive high school GPAs.

25.4% of incoming students were in the top 10% of their graduating high school class this past year, and 35% were in the top 10% in 2014. I was a part of the 2014 statistic.

My high school teachers told me that I could be very successful in a math or science-related major because these were subjects in which I seemed to particularly excel. I liked math and science a lot but also enjoyed classes like writing and journalism, so choosing a college major was a tough decision for me.

I decided in the end that math and science were the only ones that would be worth my time. I was a female who excelled in these areas and I figured pursuing a career in writing would be a waste of that ability. Plus, it wasn't guaranteed to pay the bills.

So I aimed high.

I enrolled as a biochemistry student at ONU because I thought it sounded like a challenging major at an acclaimed university. I was raised to always accept a challenge because if I didn’t, I would never know what I was truly capable of achieving.

I planned to go to medical school or grad school and pursue a career in research with my degree in biochemistry. I wanted to prove to myself that I could excel in such a difficult field, especially as part of the female minority.

I feel that I did prove this to myself, as I managed to keep a good academic standing over the years despite taking challenging courses. I realized, however, that something important was missing.

I wasn’t really enjoying myself.

Science started to feel more tedious than enjoyable, and telling people about my major became more of a reflex than something I actually wanted to talk about passionately. I did not marvel at the idea of being a scientist for the rest of my life, but for some reason, I kept telling myself that I did.

I changed my major to chemistry when I discovered my fear of blood wasn’t exactly an ideal propellent into the medical field. A lot of my new classes were interesting on the surface level, but I didn’t find myself wanting to know more. I hated going to labs and hated the lab reports even more (but I guess who doesn’t hate lab reports?).

I soon had to face the fact that maybe science wasn’t for me and that’s when I realized what my mistake was. I suffered from the misconception that being intelligent meant that I had to pursue a hard science in college.

I wanted to return to the subjects I had shoved away when I reasoned that they would be a waste of intelligence to pursue if they weren’t math or science-related. I found myself missing the writing and journalism classes I enjoyed so much in high school and realized that I wanted to continue learning about these subjects. I wanted to write something that wasn’t a lab report.

So I did something about it.

I started working as a tutor at the Writing Center where I am exposed to writing every day. While I wasn’t being challenged with reaction pathways or derivatizing equations, I found that there were other ways I could be challenged by being a writing tutor. You don’t truly understand English until you have to teach it to someone who does not speak it as their first language.

I then added a multimedia journalism minor to my chemistry major and began taking classes in journalism. I discovered that being a good journalist doesn’t just require you to be a good writer but also to be proficient in photography, speaking, design, and videography, activities that I also enjoy outside of writing.

I thought I had a solid grasp on the concepts of journalism but soon realized that I still had so much room to grow and so many different aspects to challenge me. I was having so much fun pursuing my passions in writing and other disciplines that my misconception about having to studying science soon dissolved.

To be clear, I don’t hate science and I don’t hate chemistry. I think it can be incredibly interesting to learn about and I’ve found an appealing way to apply it through mentored research in environmental chemistry. I also have a lot of respect for females in science. My female classmates and professors are some of the most intelligent people I know.

I personally decided, however, that there were disciplines outside of chemistry that I enjoyed more.

The fact still stands: I will graduate from ONU with a degree in chemistry in exactly one semester. I am okay with this. I have learned a lot of valuable skills and applications through the ONU chemistry department, but now I can comfortably tell myself that if I don’t want to pursue a career in science, if I want to be an author or a journalist, then I can be.

Being intelligent doesn’t mean that you have to go into a hard science and, for me, being challenged didn’t stop just because I traded in the goggles for a notebook and a pen.

Promoted on slideshow: 

Follow us on social media




Northern Review Story Submission Form

Interested in submitting an article for publication on the Northern Review website? Go ahead and fill out this form! Once submitted, a student editor will review your article for publication.

Northern Review Story Submission Form