I was a rebel at university. Seriously. I majored in biology, and toyed with the idea of doing postgraduate study. My father was dismayed. Every other Malaysian Chinese student in the early/mid 90’s took engineering, law or accountancy. That is, if you didn’t have the grades for medicine. Dad wanted me to do business studies, one of those general degrees where you can work in a variety of industries, and was more ‘appropriate’ for a woman. I should mentioned that I come from a family with very traditional values.
What kind of a degree is biology? Where is the job security?
In retaliation, I did a Masters in plant biotechnology. And took 5 months to land an entry-level research job. While my friends quickly scaled the career ladder and tax brackets, I floundered in a dead-end position for 4 years, which paid little more than minimum wage. It was a hugely interesting job, and I learnt a great deal. To their unfailingly supportive credit, my parents never once said ‘I told you so’. Long story short, I have changed careers several times, and am in a stimulating and challenging job, which I love, and I’m even on a respectable wage. Both Dad and I got our ways, – I am in a role which combines biology & business.
And guess what? I work at a research institute which among other roles, also breeds blueberries and studies their functional benefits. I would have enjoyed blueberries regardless, but I certainly have a huge appreciation of them now. The rabbiteye varieties grown in NZ have very high levels of antioxidants, higher than varieties bred and grown in the Northern Hemisphere countries.