Sticking With Your Gut: A Student's Testimony

Miranda Betancourt began her college career as a theater major. However, declaring this commitment was one of the most frightening, exciting, and empowering things she has ever done. Betancourt had been faced with a number of different paths to take, so deciding her major felt like a breakthrough. She could finally take a breath of fresh air.


Betancourt had many passions as a child, she was very crafty and liked learning new things. Growing up, she loved to play doctor, making her own IV bags out of yarn and ziploc baggies. She would cater to “patients” (her dolls) by checking their blood pressure and heart rates until they were cleared as healthy.


“My grandma gave me a Walgreens pen that looked just like a syringe full of blood,” said Betancourt. “I freaking loved that pen, I used to act like the person who’d draw your blood all the time.”


Betancourt’s love for science and anatomy didn’t stop when she went to grade school. She had books for kids on virus and anatomy, where her love and fascination flourished.


“The doctor thought it was really weird,” said Betancourt. “Whenever I had to go to the doctor’s, I’d bring my own books and I’d talk to them about what I was learning.”


Betancourt’s interest in science and biology at such a young age not only surprised her doctor but excited him. He was certain her passion was not just a phase, but a real career Betancourt would hopefully follow.


“My doctor was so ready for me to go to college and become a doctor,” said Betancourt. “He was so ready. I remember the day I told him I was going to study theater and just the look on his face, he couldn’t believe it.”


Betancourt’s true turning point in her decision to re-evaluate her passion for medicine happened during a medical camp at Northwestern University. She was scheduled to be there for a week, but was having second thoughts about going.


“I changed my mind and decided maybe it wasn’t worth it, maybe medicine isn’t for me,” said Betancourt.


Betancourt’s love for science was being questioned due to her involvement in her high school theater. She began to find herself wanting to spend more time directing or on stage, rather than in a laboratory. Betancourt admitted that she did indeed love science, but she had found a new passion in her life: theater.


“I realized at camp that I just wanted to go back to high school to be in the theater all day,” said Betancourt.


From an early age, Betancourt loved arts and crafts, and she always had some sort of artistic or performance as a hobby. However, this was always intertwined with her interest in the sciences.


“My parents were very excited about the chance of going as pre-med,” said Betancourt. “They thought that was what I was going to do. But as I grew older, my mom started realizing that probably wasn’t going to happen since I was also into music and literature–maybe even more than science.”


Betancourt’s confession of choosing to go a completely different route than the majority of people in her life thought she would unnerved her. But her parents supported her decision and were happy to help her through all her endeavors.


“My mom studied art,” said Betancourt. “She wanted to be a museum curator and because her parents didn’t let her study what she wanted, they didn’t have such a big problem with me deciding go to into the arts if that’s what I wanted to do.”


Choosing a different path than she envisioned  was a unsettling commitment Betancourt had to overcome. At times she couldn’t help but wonder what her future or life would have been like if she didn’t listen to her gut.


“I know myself and I would have forced myself to stick with it, with the hopes that it in the end I’d like it,” said Betancourt. “I'd say, ‘I don’t like bio now but when I get to med school it’s going to be cool. Oh, I don’t like studying medicine now but when I’m actually practicing I will.’ I would have been fine, but I would have felt fulfilled.”

Betancourt admits that going into the arts has many uncertainties in comparison to a stable position within a hospital.


“In theater, you’re constantly looking for the next thing. You’re always hunting for the next job, and it worries me,” said Betancourt.


Yet, those uncertainties are what motivate her to continue. The prospect of being successful in the theater scene drives away her worries about not having a ‘traditional’ or ‘stable’ job.


“I’m trying to let go of all of these preconceived notions of what a successful job is and focus on doing the things I want and being happy,” said Betancourt. “It doesn’t really matter if I’m living paycheck to paycheck to save up to do something fun. Because at the end of the day, if I’m happy, does it matter how?”