Tani Akinmoladun is a Medicine student at Imperial. At secondary school, she grew to love the sciences, especially biology and chemistry. It really caught her imagination, and led her in the direction of studying medicine at university.
As for feeling like a scientist – it’s something that’s only recently happened for her.
Listen to Tani in this full audio interview, or read the highlights below.
Has there ever been a time that you’ve not felt like a scientist?
It's only recently that I even found out that medicine and doctors are considered to be scientists. For me, when you even say that we're scientists, all I can think of is a group of people in their lab coats, goggles, mixing up different potions and stuff, so definitely the majority of the time I don't think I even felt like a scientist. Just because of what we associate with the word ‘scientists’, you know, just seeing it on TV.
So it's only until recently when I found out that doctors are being called scientists that I would say I can identify, since I'm learning science.
What do you think are some of the biggest myths out there about being a scientist?
One myth, I would say, is that you have to be some kind of genius to be regarded as a scientist. I mean, in high school I definitely wouldn't have regarded myself as a genius, I was doing well but it wasn't genius level. And even as a kid, I remember watching this show on Nickelodeon called Jimmy Neutron, and I felt like that created this idea that if I wasn't as smart as Jimmy Neutron, I could never ever be a scientist.
Moving on to secondary school, learning about Isaac Newton, Albert Einstein, all these people were what we knew as scientists. So there was kind of the idea that if you weren't as smart as these people then you couldn't be a scientist. And that's just not right.
We shouldn’t feel the pressure to know from the get go what we want to do. Just take it slow and learn as you go.
Which direction do you want to go in next for your studies or career?
It's still early days. I’m still a first year student, so I'm just taking it slow. So I'm not exactly sure what I want to do in future. I don't know if I want to become a hospital doctor or become a medical researcher, a GP or a plastic surgeon. But what I do know is that I am just enjoying every moment of the course. I'm just enjoying learning everything, and I know that at some point all of the knowledge I am gaining will be useful at some point.
That’s great. I think it’s important for young people to hear that no matter what stage somebody's at, they may not know exactly what their roadmap is. It's good to go into things with an open mind.
Yeah, even for me, it was only in Year 12 that I decided I was just gonna go for it. Before then, I couldn't say I knew exactly what I wanted to do, that I wanted to study medicine. When I'd speak to people and they asked me in Year 11, ‘oh tell me what you wanna do’, I was like ‘oh I don’t know what I want to be in the future. I know I'm going to do biology and chemistry for A-levels. And it's okay – you don't need to know everything from the get go. As you go along the years you're learning a lot more. Doing biology and chemistry, I learned about different career paths. We shouldn’t feel the pressure to know from the get go what we want to do. Just take it slow and learn as you go.
If you could talk to yourself as, say, a twelve year old, what study or career advice would you give?
First of all, just not to stress. Because I definitely stressed a lot when I was young, about just knowing what I felt like I needed to know, exactly what I wanted to do. And that wasn't the case. I would tell myself not to stress, just to take every day as it comes, and that you can do anything that you set your mind to.
There's no magical whatever to determine what you can do. If you decide you want to be an engineer, you can do it! You just need to be focused and go after it. So yeah, I would definitely just encourage myself that I can do whatever I set my mind to do.