Conversations with Dr. Christina Johnson


Illustration by Justine Liang.

Head: Is there anything else out there?

Heart: Yeah, but it doesn’t matter.

When I spoke to Dr. Christina Johnson this week, I learned that the above inner monologue between the head and the heart is the goal; the holy grail of all validations everywhere. Initially a Pre-Med student like the majority of you Biology majors, she was convinced that becoming a doctor was what she wanted to become. In an effort to stand out as a well-rounded applicant and review for the MCAT at the same time, she decided to work as a Teaching Assistant for General Chemistry. And that’s when the lightbulb struck.

“Once I started TA-ing I discovered that I loved teaching; [it] had never even come into my mind that I would like to be a teacher,” Johnson said. “So when I got into [medical school] and was not super excited I thought, ‘Maybe that’s a problem. Let’s go for what I know I love, which is teaching, compared to what I might love.’”

Some of us have already gone through the internships and had work experience like Dr. Henter elaborated on, but have yet to experience this “ah-ha” moment that Johnson relied on to plan her future. For Johnson, it was the realization that teaching was something she was excited about — the idea of teaching her section propelled her out of bed in the morning.

I used to think I knew what motivated me to get out of bed in the morning, but now I’m not so sure. I thoroughly enjoy everything I do, and that seems to be the problem. My head imagines so many different possibilities for my future, so my heart is not firm on what it wants.

But is this necessarily a bad thing? Not for now, at least. I’ve got two more years to figure it all out — something I and many others forget. We still have time. We can make it to the end of the line and decide to turn back and go another route. We have time — and entire life’s worth — to really find what puts our head and heart in alignment, what makes us happy and what gets us out of bed in the morning more effectively than our alarm clocks. Maybe I haven’t found it yet, but I know what I’m looking for. And that’s half the battle won.



About

Yaamini is a second-year General Biology and Environmental policy double major who knows she isn't pre-med, but doesn't know where that will end up taking her for sure. Join her on her journey through the vast field of biology as she explores different career paths and does a little soul-searching herself.