How has being a P&N graduate helped shape your professional success?
My neuroscience classes at Duke completely opened my eyes to academic passion. I came into Duke really not sure what I wanted to major in, but when I found neuroscience, it was the perfect interdisciplinary blend that kept me constantly wanting more. I was also a 3 season varsity athlete at Duke (XC, indoor, and outdoor track), so I didn't have time to do much research as an undergrad, but I really enjoyed all of my classes and it was really nice to have another passion outside my sport that made me excited for life after running, as much as I loved being a Duke athlete as well. Being a neuroscience graduate from Duke kept my academic and career doors open, even as I took a few nontraditional years after graduating to train professionally for Adidas. This past year I decided I didn't want to wait any longer to continue my career in neuroscience, so I applied to graduate schools, and I am beginning a PhD in neuroscience at Brandeis, a consistent top-10 program, in August. I am sure that this transition from the professional running world to the high end academic world would have been significantly harder if it weren't for my neuroscience experience at Duke. Not only did I gain lots of necessary skills and knowledge in the field, but I gained a serious amount of academic passion and excitement as well.
What advice would you give students in Neuroscience?
I would suggest considering different career paths in the field early. With neuroscience, it is very common to continue on to a high level graduate degree, such as medical school or a PhD, and it's very helpful to at least have these on your radar and know what you need to do if you want to get into these types of programs early on. In my experience, the neuroscience professors and advisors were really good about helping students with this, but there is only so much they can do unless students are receptive to learning about the different possibilities and really considering what would be best for them. These programs are pretty big commitments, so I would advise students to talk to as many professionals in the fields as possible to understand what is involved and what is right for them.