- anonymous author
The author is 21 and a senior at Yale University.
The end of my junior year was looming closer
and closer, and I did not know what I wanted to do after
graduation. I have always been a "science person," but medical
school just wasn't appealing enough to me to be worth enduring
four more years of schoolwork, and I was losing interest
in my laboratory research. As I was walking to dinner one
evening, I had an epiphany: Perhaps the ideal choice for
me would be veterinary school. It would combine both my
love of science and my love of animals.
To confirm the soundness of my new career
choice, during the summer between my junior and senior years
I worked at two veterinary clinics. Having enjoyed those
experiences, I applied for veterinary school in the fall.
Life, however, is never that simple. My parents, who I hoped
would be my biggest supporters, instead have become obstacles
to veterinary school.
My mother has explicitly stated that she
has less respect for veterinarians than she does for human
doctors. My parents will not financially support me as much
as they did my sisters if I am "only going to become a vet."
My mom wonders aloud why she bothered sending me to Yale.
My father also disagrees with my choice to apply to vet
school, which has now become the cause of numerous household
conflicts. My parents assiduously emphasize the lower salary
and respect for vets in our society as compared to medical
doctors. They do not comprehend that I understand that these
are the realities of veterinary medicine, but I consider
them to be easily outweighed by the rewards of the profession.
Furthermore, these negatives do not reflect the inherent
value of the profession, but rather the skewed priorities
of our society.
I understand my parents' history. I know
that, as Chinese-Americans pursuing the American dream,
they have worked and sacrificed for me. Both of my parents
grew up poor, but through hard work and auspicious timing,
they have achieved their dream. They have made a remarkable
climb up the socioeconomic ladder. My grandfather embarked
on a one-way, two-week-long journey to America with $60
in his pocket and his ten-year-old son, my father, at his
side. My mother spent her childhood living in the laundry
service that her father owned in San Francisco's Chinatown.
She showered under cold water that poured from a hose propped
above the door. Her grandfather had come to America in the
first wave of Chinese immigrants to build railroads. From
the railroad to the laundry, my ancestors exemplify the
stereotypical Chinese immigrant story.
The struggle of my ancestors has allowed
me to acquire a good education and the opportunity to find
and pursue my passion in life. I feel that if I do not live
a productive and meaningful life in my own eyes, it would
be egregiously disrespectful to my family and our history.
Now is my chance to do more than succeed financially.
Yet, my parents' concerns about veterinary
medicine are not just financial. They simply do not believe
I will be happy. They don't understand that I could become
a lawyer or a doctor or any other kind of professional and
they would be happier, but I would not be happier. They
think I could make a greater contribution to the world in
another profession. The truth is that few people make great
contributions to the world. While I strive to be one of
the few, it is not required in my definition of success.
Veterinary medicine is an area where I know
I can make a positive contribution, no matter how small.
The animal population is a neglected community in our society.
The lack of concern for animals and their welfare motivates
me to dedicate my life toward their cause. Pain is pain,
and the will to live thrives in all forms of life.
Particularly difficult for me is that every
time I return from college, we have the same discussions.
My parents say they support me, and yet I must justify my
choice to them every visit. I value my parents' opinions,
but, like most others, I do not appreciate being told the
same thing over and over again. Despite being a product
of my parents, ultimately, I am a very different person
from them. I know that we will not always agree (and indeed
rarely do), but I want them to respect my choices.
With or without their approval, I know that
I must do what I believe is right for me and what will most
likely make me happy. To me, dedicating my life to veterinary
medicine, a career I both value and respect, is the best
thank you I can give them for all they have done for me.
I hope they can see that someday.
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