I became aware of this fact as a consequence of wondering who made this mysterious liquid medicine, insulin, that had become so vital to my well-being. My next question was why these researchers were trying to treat the disease instead of curing it; or, if they were, why were they not succeeding? My 10-year-old self pondered this second question in detail, sitting solemnly at the back of the classroom, and came to a conclusion: the researchers must be either lacking the necessary motivation or did not quite have the intelligence required. With a young arrogance that is amusing in hindsight, it was clear to me that I had both these qualities in spades: motivation in particular because of being diabetic myself. So I decided that on growing up I would set out to cure diabetes, and then move on to other diseases as well, time permitting.
As I actually grew up and learned more, I realized many things: the issue is not with a lack of motivation or intelligence, but with the sheer complexity and enormity of the task. More importantly, I recognized that a motivation based on an end result is often nowhere near sufficient for research; one needs to love the subject as well as the work itself, and it later became clear to me that this was not something I could say about myself and biology.
My interest in the sciences was maintained through high school largely by pop...
... middle of paper ...
... looking back, I see that it has been a central factor in all my successes, academic or otherwise. I expect it to be central to my future success in research as well.
Now, of course, my motivation for graduate school is not based on a goal of curing diabetes. I want to come to graduate school in mathematics because I think, talk, and read about mathematics nearly all the time, and I want to continue doing so. I want to learn everything I can, explore everything in my grasp, and share my knowledge with others---leading me naturally down the path of obtaining a PhD and eventually becoming a professor. My history and motivation for graduate school is a bit unusual in that it arose in biology, but it has put me in a position today where I am well-equipped to successfully take on the challenges that await me in a research career, and I look forward to making that journey.
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