Warrior Insiders: Life after Wayne State

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Chronological photos of blog author Em Dewolf in 2004, 2019 and 2022

This is going to be the most candid article I’ve ever written. So hello, my name is Miriam, though I also go by Em/Emmet. I am a departmental and university honors student majoring in biological sciences and minoring in theatre. Assuming classes go well, I’ll graduate after the spring/summer 2023 semester. I’m very nervous. I’ve been dealing with a lot of serious mental health difficulties over the last two years, and it has made studying and preparing for the future so much harder. 

When I graduate, first and foremost, I will be taking a step back from college. Taking care of yourself is so important, and academic burnout is incredibly dangerous. My original plan was to work in a lab and teach at WSU after graduation while getting a master’s in molecular biology. Instead, I will be spending time with my partners and friends. I’ll be taking time to commit to therapy and exercise. My partner and I plan to get engaged after we both get our bachelor’s/associate degrees. So, rather than continuing to do school, school and more school, as I’ve done my whole life, I am going to give myself a true break.

My big-picture plan is to become an expert witness for genetic evidence submitted in trials. However, that requires a LOT of schooling, so there are a few stops first. I plan to secure a job with Narla Lab of the University of Michigan Cancer Center. I did an internship there in the past, I wish to earn some more experience, then go back to school to get a master’s. I haven’t decided between biology or molecular biology or genetics, or forensics yet. Next up, I’ll work a lot to acquire more income and hopefully publish during this time. Then, go back to school to get a Ph.D. in whatever discipline best fits my interests at that time and publish more genetic-based works. Many graduate students work in labs and teach at the university while studying, so this is likely what I will do, too.

This has been my plan since I was in high school, but things have been changing. Even more so, I have been changing. College is the best time to explore your interests and yourself. In the time I’ve been here, I’ve started to identify as non-binary, cut my hair, got piercings and tattoos, and now identify as pagan. I’ve taken up acting and committed to social justice causes such as women’s rights, mental health education and equal access to healthcare. This is a big change from the typical suburban white athlete/honors student I was before college. I’ve become far more social, confident and curious. I value travel, justice, friendship and trust. Getting high scores or the top scholarships are no longer priorities. I failed some classes and barely passed others. I learned that I have some atypical mental processes and health issues I didn’t know about in the past. I just turned 21 and got a new picture and sex designation on my license. I’ve changed dramatically in the past six years. I am quite literally a different person now. What I want to do is explore and get more in tune with myself. I don’t need a degree to do that. 

So, what’s next? I plan to prioritize mental health and safety above all else. If this means working a simple hourly wage job, then so be it. Being happy is far more important than being socially “successful." What even defines success anyways?

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