I had been a humanities lover my entire life. Prior to college, I had planned on majoring in French or Political Science. I wanted to go to law school. I hadn’t taken an upper level or honors science class in my entire high school career. The thought of blood used to make me nauseous, so why on earth was I asking the orientation leader if it was better to take Chemistry or Biology my first year of college? At what point did I decide that a medical degree would be my destiny?
Maybe I decided to be a doctor at age four in my urologist’s office or maybe it was at age five in my allergist’s office (after a morsel of banana nut bread almost caused me to suffocate). Maybe I decided I wanted to be a doctor at age six, after saving numerous stuffed animals’ lives in my backyard. Maybe the decision came to me in my dermatologist’s office at age thirteen, tears streaming down my acne-ridden cheeks, so ashamed of how people might judge me and so desperate for clear skin. Maybe I decided my life’s calling at the neurologist at seventeen or cardiologist’s office at eighteen when my successive fainting episodes left me confused and distraught for the future of my health.
…Or maybe there was no single defining moment. Maybe, after being in numerous appointments with several different specialists during every stage of my development, the decision had already been made for me. I’d been cared for by doctors my entire life. I’d been scared and I’d been saved. These were doctors who’d supported me unconditionally – individuals who molded me into the woman I am today. Maybe, I want that same opportunity to impact others.
As I sat in that classroom at UVA orientation, I wanted someone to tell me I shouldn’t do this. I wanted a sign that I shouldn’t go down this path. I thought someone would deny me the opportunity to take college-level chemistry because my highest level of chemical knowledge came from my 11th grade science textbook. I kept thinking one of my academic advisors would tell me I wasn’t smart enough for this path. I thought they would tell me that it would make more sense to take history or politics classes… but no one did. Nobody tried to stop me. In that moment, I realized that I was the only person holding me back. Fear that I wasn’t good enough to be a doctor was the only obstacle that stood in the way of my passion, but fear isn’t a good enough excuse.
I have only had to ask myself a few times if I really want to be a doctor, if I want to commit over a decade of my life to this pre-profession. The hesitation never lasts long; it recedes into the background with any trace of doubt. When someone asks me what I’m studying, each time I answer with a stronger and more potent, “I want to be a Doctor.” My character and ambition define my journey and I believe that six year old me, who healed hundreds of baby dolls and stuffed cats and dogs, knows that better than anyone else.
About Olivia Lacny
Olivia is in her second year at the University of Virginia. She is majoring in Biology and is very involved in activities on campus. Not only is she an active member of Kappa Delta sorority, but also is involved in the Peer Health Education program, a selective and competitive club at UVA that educates other organizations and student groups on campus about college-related issues such as nutrition, drugs/ alcohol, sexual health, and mental health. She, along with a few fellow students, is planning to launch a chapter at UVA for the National Alliance on Mental Illness in Fall 2015 of which she will be Vice President.