We at Stemme are beyond excited to introduce you to our new president, the one and only Katie Ryan. Take a few minutes to check out her journey across schools at Georgetown and find out just how incredible the new leader of the Stemmpire is.
Coming into Georgetown, I was set on being a biology major. I became particularly interested in infectious diseases and as the end of high school loomed over me, it seemed natural to declare biology as my major. Once I learned of the four biology majors offered at Georgetown, I immediately fell in love with the Biology of Global Health track. I hoped that my love of service and passion for biology could translate into better lives for people around the world. I wanted to get involved with research and get a feel for what the life of a scientist was really like. Throughout high school, I had a vision of myself working in a lab and developing vaccines when I grew up.
Throughout my first semester, I never doubted my decision to be a biology major. While other people were stuck between majors, remained undeclared, or had mini-crises attempting to figure out what to do with their lives, I staunchly held on to my love of biology. It was not until I heard friends talk about their International Health classes that I felt a twinge of uncertainty. I brushed these feelings aside because I believed that being a biology major was central to who I was as a person. These worries persisted, yet I kept them to myself as I didn't want to make a big deal out of something that was never going to change.
Shortly thereafter, I was accepted into a program that would allow me to work in a lab here at Georgetown over the summer. I was ecstatic! I would finally have the chance to try out the career I had envisioned myself pursuing for years. I forgot about ever doubting my place as a biology major. I met with a principal investigator to talk about the studies the lab was conducting and what my role would be over the summer. Afterwards, she took me on a tour of the lab to meet everyone that worked there. As soon as I stepped into the lab, I was overwhelmed by a sense of fear. I looked around and thought, I cannot work in a lab for the rest of my life. This is not the place for me.
I left the lab that day knowing that I would need to address my fear of switching majors. Back in my room that night, I thought about my interests, my (changing) career aspirations, and most importantly, what truly made me happy. I pulled up the degree progression plans for both International Health and Biology of Global Health. My interest in the classes offered by the I-Health program forced me to realize that I had to share my concerns with my parents as switching majors started to feel like more of a reality. After speaking with every member of my family (I felt like I really needed to get everyone's perspective), I set up meetings with my college dean, the dean of the International health major, an International Health professor, and a junior that transferred in to the major when she was a freshman. After more tears than I care to admit, weeks of weighing every aspect of changing majors, and countless meetings, I decided that transferring to the School of Nursing & Health Studies to pursue a Bachelor of Science in International Health was the best option for me.
I found a tremendous amount of support from professors, students and my family throughout the process. The actual transfer was a breeze. My old and new deans walked me through it and reassured me that I am by no means the first or last college student to switch majors. Now in my second semester as an International Health major, I can confirm that transferring was the best decision I could have made.
While I-Health was the best fit for me, the process of choosing a major is very personal and different for everyone. If you are experiencing those same twinges of uneasiness that I did, here are some words of wisdom to guide you through your decision:
1. Keep calm! You are not the only one having these feelings.
2. Look into other options that interest you, don't feel like you are stuck.
3. Talk to deans and professors about the programs you are interested in.
4. Find an older student that has transferred into the major or school you are considering. They've been in your place and will be more than willing to help you.
5. Look at the degree progression plan and ensure that you can fulfill the requirements in the time you have left.
6. Don't settle just because you are afraid to change! Trust me-- it's worth it.
7. Study something you feel passionate about. You will get far more out of your education and learn more about yourself if you choose a major that makes you happy and excited to learn!