My decision to attend Syracuse University in pursuit of a master’s degree was by far the easiest decision I’ve ever made throughout my academic career. I attended the University of Memphis, majoring in biology, and I was on the fast track to becoming a pediatrician.
My undergraduate study was an eventful three years full of science, great relationships and informative classes, but I was not happy. I didn’t feel that my happiness and academic fulfillment were hand in hand, and I really needed that. I was no longer excited about the things I was learning.
When I started to consider other dreams, I thought journalism might be a suitable option. I’ve always wanted to be a writer. I knew I wanted to use my words to move people and connect on a deeper level with them, but I never saw it as being more than a hobby of mine. I didn’t think I could make a career out of something that made me so happy.
One day, after I’d already graduated with my bachelor’s degree, I decided to be honest with myself and follow my passion.
I applied to Syracuse’s graduate program and told absolutely no one but my mom. I kept it a secret for a couple reasons– one, I’m terribly afraid of rejection. For some weird reason, I felt like if I told no one I applied and somehow didn’t get in, then I’d save myself from embarrassment. I also wasn’t ready to tell everyone in my life that I no longer wanted to be a doctor. People had been rooting for me. How was I going to say, ‘Hey by the way I don’t want that for myself anymore?” I was petrified.
I poured my heart into my personal statement, submitted my application fee and threw my computer across the room. I couldn’t believe I’d just applied to a school on the other side of the country.
Within a month, I’d been accepted into the magazine, news and digital journalism program. I remember when I received the acceptance, I called the admissions office like, “Is this a joke?” Surely enough, I wasn’t being punk’d.
From the moment we had our first introductory Zoom call, I knew this was where I deserved to be. I had something to offer this program and no matter how much imposter syndrome tried to sneak its way into my head, I wouldn’t let it.
In just the few months that I’ve been here, Newhouse has helped me grow so much as a writer, friend and woman. It’s weird to think I’ll only be here for 13 months. It’s slightly bittersweet. I plan to use every ounce of my time here perfecting my craft to the to the best of my ability.
I know making the decision to attend graduate school doesn’t come easy for everyone, but I’m extremely grateful that my decision fit me so well. I can’t wait to see what I accomplish with the Newhouse community supporting me along the way.
Ambre Winfrey is a graduate student in the magazine, news and digital journalism program at the Newhouse School.