Putting that hard-earned genetics degree to work

Bryan Nichols

I guess this is it. I have only a couple of days left of sweet, ignorant undergraduate bliss. After four years as a genetics major at a major university in the middle of Iowa, I’m now just some guy who’s done with college. The way I figure, there are probably a number of people like this.

It now comes time to join that which my mom calls the “real world.” Having been pretty sheltered up to this point, I have little idea as to what this is. Has anyone ever seen this “real world”? Maybe it’s a myth. I know I’m going to avoid it as long as possible.

How? Instead of taking mind-altering drugs, I’ll be putting my genetics degree and scientific training to work. In a move that is every parent’s dream, I’m moving to Chicago to be a musician.

So, is this what a rigorous scientific education at Iowa State gets you, a job as a musician? I guess so. Think about that. I learned all of my genetics material so well that I began to learn how to play piano. Don’t understand the connection? Maybe you should study harder, too.

Actually, there are a number of little-used career paths that could be started here at Iowa State. You could study organic chemistry and start a lucrative career as an illicit drug manufacturer. Study aeronautics and earn top dollar as a highly-skilled terrorist. Study philosophy and you, too, could end up working in the rapidly expanding field of hot dog vending.

See? Genetics and music really aren’t that out of line. I’ve now studied sciences for four years and am generally ambivalent toward them. On the other hand, I’ve been playing piano for about 15 years, and I still love it. So is there a lesson to be learned here? Maybe the lesson is that you should do what you love instead of what may get you the most money.

Looking back on the last four years is a strange thing. What can you say about something as important as college? Was it exactly what I expected? No. Was it really fun? Yes. Even though Iowa State has the potential to be a boring place, do I feel like I made the most of the experience? Yeah, I do.

I guess that, for me, this is as much knowledge as I can impart to anyone. Make the most of your life while you’re in college. While sitting around and complaining about Ames and Iowa State may seem fun, remember that you chose to come here and you don’t get the time back.

So enjoy school while it lasts. Use big, juicy visceral experiences as an alternative to studying. Enjoy being young and irresponsible. Travel. Enjoy having no idea what you’re doing with your life and especially enjoy knowing that it doesn’t matter, no matter what your parents say.

So, now that I’m ending my tenure as a Marxist ideologue, I guess I’ll wrap it up. Thanks to everyone who has read my columns this semester, even if you hated them. Thanks to Iowa State for making me an offer I couldn’t refuse. Thanks to most of my professors. Thanks to my family, girlfriend and all of my friends. The experience wouldn’t have been the same without you.

In conclusion, I hope you all enjoy the rest of your time here at Iowa State. I know that I enjoyed mine. Maybe I’ll see you in Chicago some day. I’ll be the guy behind the piano.

Bryan Nichols is a senior in genetics from Burnsville, Minn. Thank you. Good night.