“That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.” Like many other grade 3 students, I wanted to be an astronaut when I grew up. Neil Armstrong was my hero. The first man on the moon. I could be the first man on Mars, on Pluto. The possibilities were endless.
Of course, as I grew older, I developed other interests. But I never strayed too far from the path of science. It was in grade 7 that I decided I wanted to be a computer engineer. Then I would get an MBA and found a tech company that did everything that Apple and Microsoft couldn’t do with their mobile platforms. My path seemed clear. I’d spend weeks developing design schemes and blueprints.
I kept this dream alive until grade 12. Grade 12 was a year of many changes and realisations. One realisation came when I participated in the Canada Wide Science Fair with a friend. My project was on biofuels, and working on this project was the first time I seriously doubted my decision of going into the computer industry. “Bioengineering,” I said. “That’s what I’ll study.”
Of course that too changed when I started university. I began volunteering in a solar fuels lab at McGill, and I instantly fell in love with the field. My passion only became stronger when I took a course that married electrical engineering, my major, with materials science.
So why am I telling you this? Whether you have an incredibly detailed agenda of where you’re going with your life or if you have no idea what you’re going to major in, it never hurts to explore. If I could sum up the first year of university with one word, that word would be “change.” I went from living with my parents, to living in a dorm, to living in my own apartment. I got my first summer internship at a research lab. I met people from every corner of the world and made friends that I never imagined making. I took a philosophy class that opened my eyes to so many sociopolitical issues. Somewhat of an introvert in high school, I even began going out every weekend. And, I jumped off a plane fourteen thousand feet above the ground, counting on a parachute to deploy correctly.
My advice to you is make the most of your first year. Join things you would have never thought of joining. Do things you had never imagined doing. And, maybe, even join MSURJ. You’ll meet some of the brightest people who are working on mind-boggling research. You’ll entrench yourself in the final step of the scientific process: peer review. You’ll form many opinions, gain many experiences, make many new friends. But one thing you’ll never do is regret.
But only if you take that small step.