Six months ago, I received a letter inviting me to the National Student Leadership Conference on Medicine at UC Berkeley. I have always had an interest in science and was considering going into the medical field. My mother and grandparents drove me to UC Berkeley from Los Angeles. Before I knew it, they had left and I suddenly felt alone.
Later that day, we were broken into groups and met our councilors. My group’s councilor, Maylene, looked at us and smiled with a faint twinkle in her eyes, “These will be the best ten days of your lives. ” I am positive that I was not the only one who assumed she might be insane.
The next day, I awoke at six o’clock. We were meeting in our groups at six forty-five to go to a ropes course. What a ropes course was, I was not sure. We arrived in an area with much foliage overlooking the Bay just outside of San Francisco. A thick fog rolled in and engulfed my body, it was extremely cold. We put on harnesses and helmets. I looked up and saw a log suspended forty feet in the air, connecting two trees. A girl in my group named Zaria looked as if she was about to cry. She said she was deathly afraid of heights. No one was going to force her to climb, but Maylene advised her to. After seeing everyone in our group climb, Zaria she said she would do it. I have never seen someone look so determined before. Slowly she climbed and reached the log. She said she wanted to come down. Maylene encouraged her to keep going. We all cheered, “Zaria! Zaria! Zaria!” She reached the center of the log and a smile spread across her face. Forty feet in the air, on a damp log, she began to dance. Cheering resumed and only got louder. I did not feel as cold anymore or as alone, more than anything I felt proud of a person whom I known for less than twenty-four hours and had yet to speak to.
The loneliness went away completely. Our group began to bond and we became a family. A routine settled in, we would meet for breakfast and Maylene would lead us to activities. Between dissections, taking vitals, and learning how to suture I was having the time of my life.
The next day we had a lecture with a public health official. He explained that public health is more than the relationship between a doctor and their patient. He said that public health affects the whole world. I realized that if I was to become a doctor I would not only have an impact on each individual patient, but on the world. The enormity of this awed me. I realized I want to become a doctor; I want to make a difference on a large scale.
On the sixth day we visited UC Berkeley’s optometry school. The students took a picture of one of our eyes and offered to email it to us. I decided to do it. I placed my eye under the camera and looked up at the computer screen where the picture was projected. I saw the intricateness of the eye. It seemed to symbolize a new view of science and the greatness that can result from it. It seemed to be saying that a whole new horizon was about to unfold in my view of life and people. It might have only been the sixth day of the conference, but it was already the six best days of my life.
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