The Story of my life
"The challenge of life, I have found, is to build a resume that
doesn't simply tell a story about what you want to be, but it's a
story about who you want to be."
"Hence, my young adult life gave way to this particular gravitational pull. With powerful determination, I practiced with the devotion of a seasoned professional until my physical architecture could no longer withstand the intensity of dancing."
As I read the aforementioned quote [Oprah Winfrey], thoughts become saturated with the notion of sharing a glimpse into my history. Thus, the intention throughout the following is to provide clarity of who I am and, most appropriately, whom I aspire to be.
My parents gave me two choices growing up: playing soccer or pursuing dance. As an authentic lover of the arts, I ultimately chose to creatively express myself through dance.
Hence, my young adult life gave way to this particular gravitational pull. With powerful determination, I practiced with the devotion of a seasoned professional until my physical architecture could no longer withstand the intensity of dancing.
During my youth I was initially enrolled in a high school for the performing arts and excelled academically. Graduating two years early, I immediately entered Pittsburgh's Musical Theater Conservatory. My passion was ballet, classical singing (Rogers and Hammerstein trained mezzo-soprano ingenue), and improv.
I made plans to apply to every major conservatory in the United States following my eighteenth birthday. Dedicated to obtaining a B.A. in Ballet/Musical Theater, I decided to immerse my talents within dance and opera. Unbeknownst to me at the time, a twist of fate including a looming health issue would soon ravage my body and shift the course of my life.
The Fire That Started The Flame
"Unwilling to succumb to what could easily be perceived as tragedy, I set forth on a new journey and applied to a multitude of liberal arts colleges therefore paving the way for my artistic expansion as well as simultaneously delivering practical skills and diverse methods of thinking; a combination I may not have been exposed to from a more traditional university."
To add a bit more clarity into my story’s labyrinth, a horrific house fire at the age of seventeen cracked my foundation as the loss of every material item my mother and I owned burned into a sea of ashes. Unwilling to succumb to what could easily be perceived as tragedy, I set forth on a new journey and applied to a multitude of liberal arts colleges therefore paving the way for my artistic expansion as well as simultaneously delivering practical skills and diverse methods of thinking; a combination I may not have been exposed to from a more traditional university.
After my house burned to the ground my intuition was on high alert. Instinctively knowing a radical shift was crucial at this point, I decided to enroll in a summer semester program that granted me the good fortune of studying at Sorbonne University in Paris.
During that summer I discovered certain realities about myself, one being an entrepreneurial vibe. As I walked down the well-worn streets of the Parisian fashion district, I laughed as my American accent skipped three steps ahead while I joyfully recited French and worked on an assigned sewing project.
Whilst in Paris I studied French, International Business, and Fashion. During this time, I also uncovered my natural affinity for language and, hence, a destiny toward that of a polyglot.
Midnight in Paris; Afternoon at Hampshire
"As long as you were prepared to learn and willing to buckle-down if you weren’t well-versed in a subject, Hampshire College had your back. Hampshire realizes the potential college students have to organically thrive when supported."
After returning home from Sorbonne University, I had a clear vision on what college I should attend. My interests going into academia surrounded cognitive neuroscience. As fate may have it, I located a liberal arts cognitive science program that just so happened to be in the United States.
Hampshire College captured my attention as it genuinely spoke to my psyche on multiple levels. What I most admired about Hampshire College is their resistance to any sort of boxed curriculum. Truth be known, as I toured other campuses regardless of their enrollment capacity, I was often told my inquisitive nature toward research wouldn’t begin until at least my junior year and in some cases, it would be unavailable until I was a senior.
At big universities, I was told I would be "lucky" to conduct any Ph.D. work by my senior year. Adding to my mental chaos was the strong suggestion to place all attention upon obtaining general education requirements as a way to “not disrupt the status quo." In hindsight I've recognized disrupting the status quo is in my blood!
I picked Hampshire College for their innovative methods surrounding academia. Solidifying my connection, Hampshire College did not have any mandatory required courses and it didn’t have any courses you HAD to take prior to advancing into higher level courses.
As long as you were prepared to learn and willing to buckle-down if you weren’t well-versed in a subject, Hampshire College had your back. Hampshire realizes the potential college students have to organically thrive when supported. The first class I ever took in college was human biology which may sound rather run of the mill. This course, however, was designed around an aura of an episode from House MD. As students, we would be given clues and case summaries about the patient each week while our assignments included writing differential diagnoses. My discipline garnered from ballet served me well as I delved into my studies and frequently wrote differential diagnoses until 3 am!
The Freshman 15
"Receiving this news while simultaneously experiencing a rapid decline in my energy levels, I worked at a steadfast pace as I had little choice but to watch all "fun" freshman activities evaporate from my world."
During my freshman year, my immersion within neurodegenerative disorders enmeshed within neurocysticercosis and primary progressive aphasia became finely-honed, and I soon branched into the study of Alzheimer’s disease. What coincided with that time was the unfortunate deterioration of my own health. Following a series of tests, it was finally concluded I suffered from what is referred to as "Thoracic Outlet Syndrome." Receiving this news while simultaneously experiencing a rapid decline in my energy levels, I worked at a steadfast pace as I had little choice but to watch all "fun" freshman activities evaporate from my world.
My surgeon assertively informed me a summer job wasn't allowed. This, of course, prompted me to fully place my efforts upon recovery. Little did I know this restful recovery would soon encourage me to create a new line of work. Since I wasn’t able to be a “normal” college student, I decided to go through classes with lighting speed. Taking seven to nine classes each semester and pushing my knowledge in the scientific field of infectious diseases, epidemiology, and neuroepidemiology, conversations were highlighted by my hard-earned academic aptitude.
Since I was needing to rest all summer and unable to take a job during my freshman to sophomore year, I decided to start my own business: Carina Consulting. Relating to having watched both of my parents, who at the time were consultants, find it difficult to land desired projects, I elected to showcase Carina and step into the role of president of the company. I then concluded the business of Carina would be fulfilled by three subsections: Account Management, Marketing, and Web-design. My mother headed the account management section, my father in charge of the web design portion, and I, along with a few insightful friends, spearheaded Carina’s marketing division.
During this time, I was able to take many start-up projects from finish to end, basically acting as a job recruiter for my parents. My professional repertoire included Naz&Court, Metro Realty, Open Blue Productions (Open Blue Cobia), Snoowl, as well as many others. I taught myself all the principles needed to operate a marketing firm and how to negotiate deals from beginning to end in terms of contracts for projects from startups to larger corporations. Knowing it would be ambivalent of myself to not understand the web design portion or account management facet of my business, I dived into the deep end and became self-taught in that aspect as well.
The Next Steps
"With this knowledge in hand, I personally own the fact that having a holistic background is the key to success."
My liberal arts education taught me self-sufficiency in understanding all aspects of life. Thus, I didn’t rely on one day entering corporate America and needing to figure out all sides of policy or business and research.
Upon entering school the following fall, I was knees up in business endeavors. I started taking economics and entrepreneurship courses but soon realized that although I was very good at business, I sincerely wanted to help people. Moving forward, I reconciled with the thought that more than eight months of practice in business would soon come to cease; at least for the time being.
After returning to school in the spring, I went on to take more classes in mathematical modeling of disease, statistics, medical ethics and more. This all happened as I was recovering from my first rib resection which occurred over the Christmas holiday. My physicians told me to stay back from school, but I stood firm that missing a semester wasn't an option.
I never wanted to give up my love for health care and, thus, I didn’t. By May of 2016, my health continued its downward slope and by June of 2016, I underwent two major surgeries; all in the span of a six-month timeframe. A tipping point was approaching and, by the summer in between my sophomore/junior year, I chose to take a job in biotech that would allow me to be close to my doctors. Gaining greater knowledge in both business sectors as well as in microfluidics, I soon believed it was important for me to use my skills of data analytics to see whether or not they would carry over into biotechnology. With this cognizance, I learned first hand the business of industry versus complacency in academia.
This experience broadened my horizons and allowed me to investigate how easily transferable my skills were in biotech and business. We were entering the era of artificial intelligence and big data. Utilizing my skills in data mining, I was able to effectively tackle corporate and startup America, biotech and academia. I believe a strong sense of rational skills, stemming from epidemiology and biostatistics, carries momentum to affect diverse populations. With this knowledge in hand, I personally own the fact that having a holistic background is the key to success. As a whole, we are becoming too focused, whereas rigidity disempowers our ability to understand how business really operates on a global level. Adhering to a “cog in the wheel” approach simply isn’t applicable. With mindful movement, I sought solutions to deliver a dignified system that is inclusive, balanced and founded upon modern day awareness.
Rekindling the Scotsman
"The universe is known, yet so unknown. This fact absolutely fascinated me, and as I was learning about the problems in human health on Earth, a million questions surfaced from my epidemiological background."
From this point, I traveled and studied at University of Edinburgh. Enrolling myself in classes only given to postgraduates, I brought to the surface the importance of healthcare. Studying the NHS as well as comprehending exactly how proper academia worked, I soon witnessed Edinburgh’s excitement behind new ideas that wasn’t always found in America. What was so intertwined at Edinburgh was the collaboration between policy (law), health, and research. Everyone seemingly had a background in both and I eagerly became interested in understanding just how important policy was in terms of healthcare and vice versa. Also, during this time in Edinburgh, I figured out a passion that made me excited to get up every day: Space!
The universe is known, yet so unknown. This fact absolutely fascinated me, and as I was learning about the problems in human health on Earth, a million questions surfaced from my epidemiological background. Thus, I started embarking on questions regarding human space colonization at policy and academic levels whilst in Edinburgh. I eventually received an invitation to present my findings within a public forum and will forever direct my efforts into the limitless field of space.
Upon returning home I began to dissect information and question everything. Placing my feet back on US soil after a major divisive election, I was able to see that in order to make any change in space policy for the betterment of innovation it was important for me to understand not only research but also policy. I, therefore, became involved with the Charles Koch Institute. The Charles Koch Institute opened the door to allowing me a better understanding of policy, legal statutes, and how to accurately explain scientific terminology that might be foreign to policy officials. This experience enhanced my base knowledge by downloading me with exemplary tools to reach decision makers and those who practice right action.
The End Which Starts The Beginning
"A profound thinker, I have an inexhaustible drive to meet challenges head on as I extend compassion into our massive society. Reaching for limitless possibilities, I am committed to conceptualizing every ounce of this knowledge, especially in big data, and leaving a memorable footprint upon this world."
Moreover, my goals are to keep up with the commercial space industry and advocate for safe and successful missions to Mars. My professional landscape includes becoming an activist and philanthropist for individuals with debilitating diseases along with facilitating success across various platforms. Speaking upon their behalf through conferences and podcasts, I am better equipped to shift the paradigm. Because of my yearning to mentor young adults, especially young women in the areas of STEM, I have the proficiency to make a positive impact throughout communities.
My liberal arts education broadened my horizons in ways I could never imagine. By remaining mentally fluid when faced with adversity, I’ve reached a maturity level well beyond my years. A profound thinker, I have an inexhaustible drive to meet challenges head on as I extend compassion into our massive society. Reaching for limitless possibilities, I am committed to conceptualizing every ounce of this knowledge, especially in big data, and leaving a memorable footprint upon this world.
My journey across academia was often filled with winding roads and steep paths. A mystery for me to uncover, I unabashedly rolled up my sleeves. Beneath the brush and thorns, I found answers; ultimately awakening the best version of myself.
Having gained irrepressible ambition and a keen sense of lucidity, I confidently vocalize:
“Where you attended college is not about the name or
hefty enrollment. It’s about the growth and expansion you
experience while there.”