Updated: Oct 8
Author: Hazal A. Kara
Although I had always had an interest in science, it wasn’t until sixth grade that I decided I wanted to become a scientist. That year my science teacher introduced me to the Future Explorers Program, an after-school activity in collaboration with Space Camp Turkey. I discovered vastly different fields from planetary science to mechanical engineering. By the end of the year I had decided on becoming a theoretical physicist. I regularly watched popular science YouTube channels and read science magazines.
This continued in seventh and eighth grade. But somewhere along the lines, I lost my interest. I still wondered about the “big” questions surrounding our universe: “What came before the Big Bang?”, “What is dark energy?”, “Can string theory provide an accurate description of our reality?”, but I did not aspire to become a physicist anymore. I don’t know what caused this. Perhaps it was because my mental health was not great, which led to a drop in grades, which led to thinking I couldn’t ever become a physicist if I wasn’t getting above 90 on a middle school science exam.
In fact, I claimed I wanted to become a political scientist because I was passionate about activism and human rights issues. It is suffice to say that just because someone wants to be involved in activism and charitable work, doesn’t mean that politics is the right career path. I went back and forth between different careers; “Should I become a campaign manager, a politician, a lawyer, or a policy analyst?”
I realized that political science was not right for me during ninth grade. The first instance was when I took a MOOC in American politics. I didn’t enjoy the initial lecture videos and reading assignments. Nevertheless, I thought, “Not everyone loves every single bit about what they study,” and continued pursuing political science. I also became interested in climate activism, though I had a passive role, mainly staying up-to-date on news about the environment and reposting images on social media.
With this newfound interest I determined that I would either become a politician running on a platform of environmental legislation or advocate for environmental rights as a lawyer. I then slowly started shifting to the natural sciences. One day, in the summer between 9th and 10th grade, I randomly thought about how my grades in physics were the highest. Maybe I was destined to follow physics after all? This belief led me to start reading physical science articles and expanding my knowledge in physics.
Today, I am glad that I was able to find my right path. Political science is interesting and I certainly will continue to be involved in political activism throughout my life - but it’s not the right career for me. Whenever I think about physics, whatever subfield it may be, I feel like I belong. I am fascinated by the seemingly infinite possibilities that humanity will continue to discover about the way our universe works.