Written by  Ashleigh Bass

I never wanted to go into a science field before high school. I had my life planned out, I was going to go to college, major in psychology, and go to law school and become a big business lawyer. I never really had an interest in science classes.

Science had always seemed boring and uninteresting. I never felt like I got much attention as an individual student because of the large class size. My opinions changed after I enrolled at Rockdale Magnet School for Science and Technology.

In 9th grade we did an experiment with E. coli, antibacterial soap, and hand sanitizer. The goal of the experimentation was to see which of the two (antibacterial soap and hand sanitizer) is better at killing and preventing the spread of bacteria. Being in a lab and actually visualizing and seeing what we learned take place in real life was eye opening. Being in Magnet has allowed for many eye opening experiences.

We did a lot of different experiments in 9th grade to see what peaked individual interest. This was to help prepare us for experiments that we will be doing in the upcoming years as Magnet Research 2, 3, and 4 students. As new students we had a better idea of what could be done in the research labs. At the end of 9th grade, I had the plan of becoming a marine biologist, so I wanted to do research work with sea creatures. With the help of my research teacher I came up with the idea of persistent organic pollutants on the lifespan and development of sea urchins.

My project changed over time. My ideas for projects evolved as I became more involved immersed in the idea of working in the labs. As I took more Advanced Placement science classes, labs became more independently run, with the teachers serving as facilitators. This helped students become more aware of what is happening in a lab and what behaviors and conduct should be taking place in the lab. This further helped develop my interest for future research projects and develop ideas as to what career I want to pursue as an adult.

Over the course of 4 years, I have learned to love and embrace science. As a senior in high school, I want to continue to explore my new found love for the sciences. I want to go to college and major in either pre-medicine or biomedical sciences, go to medical school, and eventually become a pediatric surgeon with a focus in oncology.

As a specialized STEM school, Magnet allows students to focus specifically on their interests and offers unique opportunities in that area that students normally would not get at a regular high school. Although they may seem narrower on the surface, specialized schools actually give students the opportunity to broaden their horizons and become exposed to different career paths. This helps students decide what career they would like to take on as an adult before college. Looking back, I would advise younger students to challenge themselves to go to specialized school. Yes, specialized schools may have a more challenging curriculum but in the end all the hard work pays off.

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