Backhoes, bulldozers, excavators – I love them all. By my fifth birthday, I could name every piece of heavy construction equipment. Most children enjoy the prosaic games tag or hopscotch. I was different; I preferred going to family company owned construction sites and riding the equipment with my grandfather. With an early interest in construction, my attention inevitably turned towards Legos and Erector Sets. Even my first job, landscaping, related to construction.
In all technicality, I was a landscaper long before receiving a paycheck. Memories of planting flowers and pulling weeds with my parents flood my mind at the beginning of every spring. On more than a few occasions, I would pretend the flowerbeds were construction sites and I would use my toy trucks over mundane garden tools. My backhoe dug holes for flowers, my grader loosened soil around otherwise hard to pull weeds, and my bulldozer dumped dirt on weeds I was too lazy to pull. The summer following my twelfth birthday, I was ready to branch out of my parents’ garden and begin my professional landscaping career. Having recently built a house on a massive 15-acre property, I started my career with my grandfather. For the next several summers, the land was ours to tame and mold.
Through the summers, I never tired of landscaping. Naturally, I thought about a career in construction. However, as I began my studies at Allegheny College my dreams started to transform. Suddenly, construction was only a hobby, no longer satisfying my intellectual desires. Several philosophy courses later, Descartes’ mind/body problem captivated me. As I progressed in philosophy, disappointment set in when modern philosophers had no concrete evidence for a mind/body link. Realizing I needed a more empirical route, and thinking the answer lay with the brain, I began studying psychology eventually leading me to neuroscience.
As a neuroscience major, I was awarded many opportunities to take part in various research projects. Through two separate internships and a yearlong independent study, I gained valuable insight into the world of scientists. The summers of 2007 and 2008 saw me taking a sabbatical from landscaping. Opening the door to the world of academic research, I worked with Dr. Hollerman on an animal model of autism in my first internship. Fall semester I had the opportunity to continue with the summer research, however, still interested in a mind/brain link I chose to study memory. For the next year, I studied two subtypes of declarative memory in rodents, attempting to show they were associated with two different areas of the brain. Though failing to support my hypothesis, my research added to the litany of others attesting to the fact that declarative memory is not specific to humans. Summer of 2008, I continued researching, this time working with Dr. Juhasz, synthesizing a stockpile of carborane anions used in the construction of superacids. Unlike my previous internship, there was little in the way of experimentation creating an environment that felt similar to working at a private research firm.
Though I enjoyed my research endeavors, they alone were unable to quench my voracious intellectual thirst. With this knowledge, I resumed my old landscaping post after graduation, while I reflected on my experiences in neuroscience. I emerged with the realization that I came out of science with a desire to use research in a way to affect regulatory policies, something only a study of the law provides. I now wish to use my background in science to begin a career as an intellectual property lawyer. I am confident that my background in construction and science – fields that demand excellence in methodical, logical, and analytical thinking – will allow me to succeed in law school. My backhoes, bulldozers, and excavators have since transformed into methodical, logical, and analytical thinking, themes that have been present throughout my life.