My path to research wasn’t a straight trajectory, but more of a pivot into the unknown. It first started with me wanting to become a medical doctor.  When I was 4 years old, my mother at the time was very ill and I told her that I would become a doctor to cure her. This meant my journey needed to start then.

While in high school, I was part of a program, Gateway, that helps underrepresented students advance to higher education. Through the work I had done in Gateway and other activities in high school, I was awarded the Posse Foundation Scholarship which sought high school seniors with strong leadership potential. This scholarship not only financially supported me at Wheaton College, but it also gave me a support group of 10 Posse Scholars and a mentor. Through this scholarship, I learned the value of mentorship and being there for those in need.

During my college STEM courses, I felt the first impact of imposter syndrome. After speaking with peers who felt similarly, I co-founded the Ohm Initiative, a living space on campus to help underrepresented students advance in STEM. While working towards inclusivity on my campus, I felt more welcomed in STEM and found myself exploring research.

My first research experience was through Dr. Yaa Kumah Cyrstal’s lab studying voice assistance for the electronic health records at Vanderbilt University. The mentorship from Dr. Kumah Crystal was unmatched. She showed me how to be a researcher and how research can impact the lives of others. Unfortunately, bioinformatics research was not for me, so I began to explore organic chemistry research through Professor Christopher Kalberg’s lab at Wheaton College. Professor Kalberg’s kind and supportive approach to research helped me gain the confidence I needed to work towards new organic synthesis for amino acids. These experiences confirmed that I wanted to pursue research in the future and this foundation allowed me to apply for the Goldwater Scholarship.

After receiving the Goldwater Scholarship, I began to feel more inspired to branch away from becoming a medical doctor and following the path of becoming doctor of science. I realized that if I want to find cures, research is where I need to be. In my 2021 summer research program at Vanderbilt University through Dr. David Wasserman’s lab, I fell in love with biological and metabolism research. The lectures given by Dr. Wasserman and the experiments conducted by the lab members exposed me to a world of fascination. I have continued this fascination with the Sabri Ülker Center at the Hotamışlıgil Lab in Harvard University School of Public Health as a research assistant. I primarily study the influence of coenzyme Q on obesity and diabetes and enjoy every minute of it even with the drawbacks that research brings. I write my experience to remind Goldwater Scholars and nominees to keep an open mind to all opportunities, explore new avenues, and fall in love with your research.