by Jared Augenstein, Class of 2010
In my first meeting with my pre-major advisor, Erica Crespi, I was pretty sure that I wanted to be a doctor. So over the next two and a half years I labored through the standard pre-med classes such as neurobiology and organic chemistry more interested in simply completing the work than actually learning anything. Then, halfway through my junior year, a friend introduced me to the Vassar Uganda Project, a small student-run organization that did global health work in rural Uganda and my coursework, academic interests and professional aspirations were turned upside down.
Upon returning from Uganda I switched my major from Neuroscience and Behavior to Science, Technology, and Society, which allowed me to pursue my newfound interest in global health and international development. I started taking classes that I actually enjoyed rather than ones that were simply a means to an end, I developed better relationships with my professors and even started receiving better grades. These changes would not have been possible without the guidance of my advisors, professors, and administrators who were relentlessly supportive of my goals. This past January I was in Haiti with three fellow students during the devastating earthquake and the first people to contact me (after friends and family) were my professors whom I had developed relationships with over the past three years.
I’ve had many moments over the past few years where I’ve wanted to change something about Vassar, but upon reflecting on my experiences I now realize that Vassar has changed me far more than I will ever change it. I will take my interests and relationships with me into the real world—with a pit stop at graduate school first—knowing that Vassar fostered my passion for global health, and despite the challenges I have faced in pursuing this interest I will leave here with zeal and profound interest for what lies ahead and a deep respect for what I am leaving behind.