I Gave Up On My MPH Degree

MPH. Master of Public Health. I really thought I was going to stick it through. After all, I only had a year and a half left. However, no matter how much I grit my teeth, I could not find myself finishing through the last year and a half. Instead, I spent the three weeks before my summer term started ravaging for answers. Why am I so persistent in entering the health field? Did I ever really have a goal? A dream? Was this career goal really mine or someone else’s?

As a young girl, the many older Hmong students who went to college entered either the medical or law field. Seeing how they received praises from their parents and the community, I also wanted the same. Above all, I also wanted to make my parents proud like they did. Since I was not a big fan of politics, medical it was. Trust me, I suffered a tiny bit in my biology courses, but that did not stop me because I enjoyed learning about human anatomy and loved going to labs. More importantly, I enjoyed being with my friends. 

So why didn’t I go to medical school? My GPA was below most medical schools’ desired GPA. However, my MCAT score was within the 90th percentile (I had no idea how I did that, and a score within the 90th percentile is excellent. Meaning medical schools have no reasons to reject your application!). Nonetheless, I was having second thoughts. Did I want to go to medical school, or did I want to do something else, like immunology or epidemiology? I could never make up my mind. Fast forwarding, I decided to work towards a Master of Public Health.

During a course planning with my academic advisor, she asked me where I saw myself in four years. I couldn’t answer her. Instead, I gave her a lame answer. However, during my time in the program, I realized I hated the program, not because of the professors and students, but because I had no more passion and motivation. For the first time in my life, I thought, “Screw what the community thinks of me! It’s not like I murdered someone or stole someone’s belongings.” It finally hit me after I spent every day and night until I was mentally exhausted. I thought I had a goal or a dream, but I never did. Everything I did revolve around my family and the high expectation standards set by the previous generations before me, who became doctors and lawyers. I let these get to the best of me, and I wanted to become like them. 

I thought about what I wanted to do and what I love. Since I could not decide what I wanted to do, I went with what I loved. One day I was scavenging through my notebooks of notes from college, searching for a set of anatomy and chemistry notes to give to my cousin. As I flipped through my notebooks, I saw stories I wrote in my notebooks when I couldn’t focus in class or was primarily bored. I remembered my friends, who always joked that I was the wrong person to lend notes to other students. 

As a young child, I love reading and writing. I always have and always will. However, English has always been my weakest subject in school. I had, and will probably always will, understanding grammar rules. I did not enjoy interpreting poems or why Fitzgerald uses the color green for a symbolic meaning in The Great Gatsby. So, I never thought of majoring in English or writing. Besides, I saw no point in it, because it is hard to make a living. But who was I joking with–it is hard to make a living in general! So, I began my search to look for creative writing programs. I went with Southern New Hampshire University and got a quick acceptance letter. 

I emailed my academic advisor and the head department that I was grateful for them to let me be part of the MPH program for two years, but I realized that even though my professor and advisor saw that I had the potential, it was not for me. I withdrew from the public health program ending on a good note (they responded that they would always welcome me back if I should decide to continue my degree later on). So, I gave up on my MPH degree and am taking my first creative writing course with three weeks left until the summer term is over.


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