Passion and Perseverance Creating Paths and Positivity

A Chat with Dr. Val Reeves about how pursuing what you want to do the most, as opposed to what you do the best in, can lead to developing a stronger toolkit and better work ethic in the end.

My story starts at UNB and how I came here with a mindset that I was going to do marine biology. And then first year happened, and oh gosh, what a learning curve that was. To top it off, I didn’t enjoy biology, not even a little bit! And in high school I hated chemistry, but here I was, in university, enjoying it.

Socially I was a mess. Academically, I was not where I wanted to be. At Thanksgiving, I had my room packed up and I was not planning on coming back. I failed my physics and math midterms, and I had myself convinced that I wasn’t cut out for university. But you know the weirdest thing? Chemistry was my worst subject but I was enjoying it the most.

So I decided to stay in the end and after changing my habits a bit, I ended up on the Dean’s List- but just barely! I actually decided to major in the course I was getting my worst mark in and I think that’s an important lesson. You shouldn’t major in the thing you do the best in, you should major in what you enjoy. You will have more passion and perseverance when you’re enjoying what you’re learning- even if you’re not excelling at it- than if you’re just doing it to get through. Go after what you enjoy.

When people start a science degree, they feel so restricted to the path that they’re going to follow. But if you keep your eyes wide open and stay true to your passions (don’t lose those- I lost mine for a while and it wasn’t a good place to be in), there will be so many paths.

The beauty of STEM is it isn’t always the content knowledge you come out with, it’s the skill set you have built. So it’s not necessarily that I can regurgitate chemistry from this textbook or that textbook, but it’s that I have learned important skills such as problem-solving and critical thinking.

You really develop this mindset and toolkit and that it can be applied to so many things. Like I love seeing people that do chemistry and go to law school. I love seeing people come from science and go into law or education because, wow, do our kids need STEM education. It’s like a tree! The trunk is your B.Se and all those branches are all the places you can go. It’s a skill set, a toolbox you’re building up.