Patient to Peer: Realizing My Major

Beginning my first year of college in late August, I was certain that I wanted to have an impact on improving cancer treatments, specifically for pediatric cancers. In my mind, the best way to work towards improving treatments was in pursuing medical research, specifically for pediatric oncology. Going into it, I knew that it was going to be a lot of work, and a whole lot of extra schooling. But that didn’t deter me. I am very passionate about finding ways to improve treatments and prognoses for people, especially ones who have been under similar circumstances to myself, so I knew that motivation for me to go through extensive amounts of schooling would not be hard for me to find.

One thing I hadn’t ever thought about was how I could benefit cancer treatments, aside from being an oncologist, nurse, researcher, or an aide to any of them. These seemed like they were the most impactful, and therefore beneficial, things to pursue in this field. For me, there was one problem – I have recently rediscovered my love for math. While, I still enjoy science, the way that math has its complexities and the answers aren’t always concrete, was like always putting pieces of a puzzle together. In pursuing research, researchers are often, wrong in what they were searching for or trying to create. Whereas, in math there is always a way to find an answer, or to put answers together. Based on how I act and look at things, being wrong all the time isn’t something I feel that I could handle daily. But I still know I want to be a piece of the research process.  

This week, I spoke with an academic advisor about changing my major that could better combine math into my future career. At the meeting, she reminded me about a major at Simmons for Data Science and Analytics – something that combines the information from studies and the ability to use them to look at specific trends. It can be done on small scale, like how many people wake up at eight in the morning, or on a large scale, like how patients react to different types of treatments based on their primary diagnosis. Of course, I would use it for the types of research involving research on cancers and treatments. This would enable me to be involved in the process, but by being more on the analytical side of research. I met with my calculus professor to talk about data science in the medical field, specifically looking at research, and she encouraged me that it is both a good fit for me, personally, and it is a necessary piece of the research process. In data science, I can use both my love for math and my passion of improving research for treatments, all while using an analytical mindset – something that has always been important to me.