"Be curious, and strive to find answers to the questions that pop into your head, whether it’s through a Google search or through reading a book."
My career roadmap has been all over the place.
Ever since I was in elementary school, I knew that my career path would involve something in STEM, as I loved science and mathematics.
In middle school, I found my first scientific love: biology. I knew that I didn’t want to pursue medicine, but I enjoyed biology as a subject.
Going into high school, I found an interest in space studies, and decided that I wanted to pursue a career in either aerospace/astronautical engineering or astrophysics.
In the summer after eleventh grade, I was a part of a research program at the USC Viterbi School of Engineering where I got to assist a Ph.D. student with his aerospace/electrical engineering research, where I worked on battery testing for the viability of electric aircraft.
After the research program, I found that I wasn’t as interested in engineering as I thought, and changed my career plan to focus on astrophysics, especially research.
Through the peer tutoring program at AOC and the volunteer work I have completed, I found a passion for teaching, and know that I want to work as a professor in the future.
Though I feel confident about my decision to pursue astrophysics, I am exploring the idea of pursuing quantum physics with research emphases in astrophysics and biophysics (in a field known as quantum brain theory).
Here are my extracurriculars relevant to this pathway
DURING MY HIGH SCHOOL CAREER
Summer High School Intensive in Next Generation Engineering (SHINE) at USC Viterbi, where I researched battery-powered aircraft in Professor Alejandra Uranga’s Aerodynamic Design Research Lab under Ph.D. student Saakar Byahut. (Summer 2019)
Volunteering in both a sixth-grade classroom at Golden Oak Elementary and as a mentor for a FIRST LEGO League Robotics Team at La Mesa Junior High. Both of these schools are my alma maters. (2018-2020)
Project 691 Robotics Team (FIRST Robotics Competition) (2018-2020)
Self-taught studies: EdX classes in astrophysics and computer science, in addition to Citizen Science research for space studies. This is especially poignant and important to pursue with the pandemic (2017-2020).
*Note: most of my ECs were engineering focused, but this helped me to determine that as much as I loved space, I would rather focus on the physics and the structures than the engineering of resources to explore space. (As a JPL scientist once put it, aerospace engineering carries out the exploration that astrophysicists research and propose).
DURING MY COLLEGE CAREER
Currently waiting to step foot on campus!
What I'm currently doing/hope to do
In the future, I hope to either be a professor and researcher in astrophysics or a scientific communicator (think Bill Nye, Carl Sagan, Neil DeGrasse Tyson, and beyond). Regardless of which option I choose, I will be attending graduate school to pursue a Ph.D. in Astrophysics or Quantum Physics.
How to maximize my time in high school?
Advice #1: Have a passion for what you’re doing.
Advice #2: Pursue research opportunities in high school.
Advice #3: Strive to understand the theories behind what’s happening in your science and math classes.
Advice #4: Be curious, and strive to find answers to the questions that pop into your head, whether it’s through a Google search or through reading a book.