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The Chemist on "Why STEM?"



For as long as I can remember, I always wanted to be some kind of scientist. My first love was astronomy. I was so fascinated with NASA and wanted to go to space, so much so I got a telescope one Christmas and was in heaven for...... a few months. After that, I think I wanted to go into the medical field. At one point, I wanted to be a pediatrician and another point I wanted to be a surgeon - both of which fell through once I saw how much schooling I would've had to do for them. High school came around and I fell completely, head over heels, in love with chemistry and I haven't fallen out of love ever since.

The idea of being in a lab and figuring things out , making stuff change colors, heat up, see a little smoke, was to amazing to me - and still is for that matter. And knowing that chemistry is so broad and that there are different things I could do with it, is what kept me pursuing it. Initially I had no idea where I wanted to go with chemistry and undergrad definitely helped me make that decision. For one, I knew I was NOT an organic chemist, it was one of those things I just never grasped. Physical chemistry wasn't horrible but still wasn't it. Inorganic chemistry on the other hand was where I would've gone, because metals make beautiful colors, but I wanted to explore my other interest of solving crimes too.

Now I LOVE Law and Order: SVU, NCIS, and the shows like that, but those shows give a very broad picture of forensics. So since I wanted to do both, solve crimes and be in a lab, analytical chemistry was my calling - and is what I'm getting my Ph.D. in. Even within this branch of chemistry I could study literally anything, but my heart is with analyzing drugs. And before you ask, no I am not Walter White. Forensic chemistry, more specifically drug chemistry, ties together all the analytical chemistry I've learned and also all the techniques/instrumentation I've learned in the other branches of chemistry.

So I guess my answer to "Why STEM?" would be "Well, why not STEM?" STEM fields can take you anywhere you want to go and fill any niche you can think of - and if it's not already out there, you can get it going yourself. It's one of those types of careers that will always grow and evolve as the world grows and evolves, and you'll always have a job.

- The Chemist

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