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Finding A Science Passion Outside of Pre-Med

When I began college, I was planning to major in chemistry and go to pharmacy school. I was pretty set on this idea, and I had taken advanced level chemistry classes in high school and found myself very passionate about the chemistry of medicine and prescription drugs. However, when I took my first college chemistry course, I enjoyed it enough, but I began to realize that chemistry and being a pharmacist wasn’t truly what I wanted. Outside of my passion for science, I am really invested in the arts — I was on my high school’s dance team, had been involved in theatre since I was a little kid, and I have always been passionate about creativity and communication. The problem was that I didn’t anticipate these things to be a large part of being a pharmacist, and I wasn’t ready to give up that side of my passions. So I switched out of chemistry and into math because I knew that it could give me a general science degree which also could apply to many fields while I searched for a career path that was right for me.      

When you start college as a science major, it seems like everyone around you is pre-med. Socially, it appears that being in a pre-professional degree is top tier, and as a science major, the most prominent and financially successful career choice. This isn’t to discredit medical students — they’re incredibly hard-working and deserve the success they find. However, being pre-med isn’t for everyone, and it didn’t seem like the right path for me at that time. I began to do a bit more digging into the scientific career world, and after about a year of searching and trying out new classes that appealed to my scientific interests, I was able to find a whole new scientific world I had never considered. A world that was constantly changing, becoming more prominent in our world every day, and applied to almost every sector of the professional world.      

This scientific world is data science. Truthfully, I had never really heard of data science before, and I certainly didn’t know how much it could entail. Data science uses scientific algorithms and computer systems to gather and analyze data, draw conclusions, and present this information in an understandable way to employers. Data science is interdisciplinary and requires many different types of skills, but it’s the perfect field for me because it’s backed by hard science and hits on the creative and communicative side of science as well. Data science is incredibly prominent in our technologically-driven world and is useful in almost every discipline. As part of my discovery of data science, I came to find that I love computer programming and computer science — I had never previously considered these things before I decided to take a class on them, but now I’m minoring in it. Data science can be challenging, but I can say confidently that it’s where I belong and I love everything that I’m studying.      

All of this is to say that it’s okay not to know what you’re doing at first and to spend time finding what you’re truly passionate about. If you enjoy science, there is far more to science than pre-med if that’s not the right path for you. It’s important to take the time to ensure you’re studying something you actually like because all the hard work will be that much harder if it’s not a topic you’re passionate about. Don’t be afraid to change your major if it doesn’t feel right. By finding what you love, achieving your goals will feel so much greater. 

Colleagues sitting at a table
Photo by Brooke Cagle from Unsplash


Mary Muench is a senior at the University of Utah majoring in Mathematics with a minor in Computer Science. She knows too much about coffee and enjoys white-water rafting and hammocking.
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