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Brad Mehrtens

“When I grow up, I want to be a University academic advisor!”
— literally no child, ever

My decision to pursue science in college was based largely on science teachers I had in middle school and high school. Like many STEM undergraduates, I began premed because it seemed like the “best” thing to do for a smart kid who was good at biology. In retrospect, the decision was based more on a lack of awareness of other options than a true passion to pursue medicine. Then in college I had a professor who changed everything, and I realized that what I wanted to do was share my enthusiasm for biology like he did. So I went to grad school to become a college teacher just like my mentor. It did not take long to realize that teaching is only a small part of what most college professors do, and I wasn’t too keen on the other parts! So I left that program and all but abandoned my hope to teach in college. But I never left the college environment, and one day I was asked to help out with an unusual situation where an emergency teacher was needed. I agreed, and it was terrifying and wonderful. That became a long-term arrangement, and eventually MCB 150 became “my” course. A few years later another situation arose where a new advisor in MCB was needed, and I was asked if I would be interested. Let’s see…more time to have conversations with students, helping them develop skills to improve themselves…sign me up! “Advising is teaching” may be a bumper sticker slogan, but it’s also accurate. I have two jobs now that both allow me to combine what I love doing (performing and/or telling stories) with subject material that I find endlessly fascinating. I didn’t set out originally to do either of these things, but I couldn’t be happier or have a job more suited to my strengths. If you are open to new discoveries (majors, career paths, potential mentors, etc.), these forces will influence you in positive ways. Combine your interests and your skills, and no matter how unpredictable your journey may be, you’ll end up where you truly belong.