Pursuing a PhD in English Literature
Education has always been the highest priority in my family. After attending university and graduate school in the US, my parents moved to Florida, turning down a masters in architecture at Harvard for my mother for a position at an engineering firm for my father. Still relatively new to this country and language, my mother established her own architectural firm. In the midst of this transition, both spatially and professionally, my parents insisted on sending my brother to an expensive private school. My mother was trying to get her own firm going at the time and money was scarce. Yet the first priority was always to provide the best education for both my brother and myself no matter what the cost.
Along with this focus on education, my parents have also seen it necessary to give us exposure to other cultures. Born into a family that is already multicultural, my very large extended family also helped in this regard. With relatives located in Paris, Tokyo, Seoul, Chile, as well as being spread out through most of the US, we had the opportunity to travel extensively even early on when money was scarce. These trips were always as much education as they were entertainment with a strong focus on exposing us to the arts. Museums, theater, and historical site always took precedent over relaxation and leisure.
As a result of this upbringing, I have always been extremely focused on my academic pursuits. In high school I participated in numerous competitions and had my curriculum restructured to challenge me. In the end, I graduated a year early, over-eager to go to college. In retrospect this may have been a mistake. I fell into the stereotypical trap of assuming I could coast through my undergraduate experience as I had done in high school. This, coupled with my dissatisfaction with my chosen path resulted in an academic performance that was disappointing at best. Throughout high school, I had single-mindedly pursued medicine and had even made my selection of Duke based on my interest in biomedical engineering. I had worked in a research laboratory for five years at that point, so to find the attainment of my interest lacking was a surprising and difficult experience.
I began shopping around...