Bio Lab: It Gets Better
Hi, my name is James Lopez, and I’m a pre-med student at Vandy.
You know, it’s a tough environment, the Biology department. The environment isn’t the most welcoming. They force you to stare at yellow solids that turn into yellow liquids, claiming that it’s all bacteria and DNA solutions.
But I couldn’t see a thing. I couldn’t see the joy in working with things I couldn’t see, and I was ostracized by the faculty, the TA’s, and my fellow classmates who thrived in this microbial wonderland. I was a target, a victim of the system. Because of this bias, my grades suffered, and I found no interest in working with these foul-smelling, potentially infectious diseases. To make matters worse, we had to design a group project about e. coli.
It was a toxic environment. I remember going to the bathroom just to escape it all, to wash my hands as a big middle finger to microbiology and a metaphor for killing these bacteria and just getting it over with. I guess my classmates got it, but I didn’t. I wasn’t born that way.
Then second semester biology came, and it was a whole different experience.
We counted (and killed) beetles, we mated flies, and we even ventured into the woods to measure plants! We dissected cow eyes and looked at muscles underneath the microscope. We flexed our muscles for a computer. We tasted PTC paper (to our discomfort). We worked with things I could actually see and interact with! It was heaven. This was me. This was what I was born to do.
I got much better grades in this lab. I was totally in my element. With a scalpel in one hand and a dead cow’s eye in another, the only thing I could think was: “When do I start slicing this thing to pieces?” It was a thrill that only biologists of the macro-scale universe could feel.
I was so afraid that this lab was just gonna be a repeat of last semester: mind-numbing, judgmental microbiology. Instead, I found flies and beetles and plants. I found home. I found acceptance of who I was meant to be: a happy “macro”-biologist.
So to all who are just like me and suffering through microbiology discrimination, just remember: it gets better.