Life’s journey is a fascinating tapestry of twists and turns, guiding us to unexpected
destinations. My own voyage into the realm of science took me by surprise, diverting
me from my dream of pursuing medicine. Instead, I was drawn into the captivating world
of biology during my university days. Little did I know that this shift would lead to a
rollercoaster of experiences, testing my mettle and shaping me into the scientist I am
today, and ultimately find a balance in my scientific pursuit.

My university days marked the genesis of my passion for biology. Although I initially felt
disappointed for not meeting the grades for medical school, the intricate wonders of
biology soon mesmerized me. It was during this time that I had the privilege of meeting
my inspiring Principal Investigator (PI), who opened the doors to collaboration,
welcoming me into his group as a contributing student. This encounter ignited a spark
within me, catapulting my passion for science to new heights.

However, not all was smooth sailing. As I advanced, the pressure to maintain stellar
grades for a doctoral program weighed heavily on me. The insidious “impostor
syndrome” lurked in the shadows, whispering doubts about my abilities despite my
accomplishments. Tasks outside my comfort zone became formidable obstacles and
finding my place in the laboratory felt like navigating a labyrinth. In this crucible of self-discovery and vulnerability, I had to shatter the mental barriers that threatened to hold
me back. Transitioning to the master’s program marked yet another daunting phase of
my scientific journey. The need to prove my commitment to science, both to myself and
my peers, fueled an internal battle with fears of failure. As my passion for science
soared, it inadvertently began to take a toll on my well-being, as I grappled with the fear
of making mistakes. I faced an additional hurdle that I hadn’t anticipated – depression.

It was time to choose: the choice to either take a step back or seek help.

I decided to seek professional help, and with the guidance of therapy, I navigated the
depths of my depression and emerged with a stronger sense of self. Every setback was
a steppingstone towards progress, allowing me to mature both as a scientist and as an
individual. Armed with newfound strength, I navigated the intricate complexities of the
scientific world.

My journey is a testament to the power of support, understanding, and the significance
of mental health in the pursuit of a scientific career. I discovered the importance of
striking a balance—a delicate equilibrium that nurtures a sustainable and fulfilling
voyage. Though science can be all-encompassing, I learned to cherish personal pursuits,
nurture relationships, and prioritize self-care. This newfound awareness bestowed me
with a healthier perspective and transformed me into a well-rounded individual, not just
a scientist.

Today, I stand as a resilient scientist, a survivor of both academic and emotional
struggles. My experiences have shaped me into a more compassionate, driven, and
empathetic individual, forever grateful for the unwavering support that led me to the
successful scientist I am today.

Every twist and turn, from the unforeseen start in biology to battle the shadow of
depression, shaped me into the scientist I am today. The path to scientific success is
demanding, yet equally rewarding. As I peer into the future, I am armed with invaluable
lessons from my past. With determination and an unwavering spirit, I eagerly embrace
new challenges, confident in my ability to conquer them.

About the author:

I’m Ana S. De la Rosa-Herencia, a molecular biology scientist from a small village in Spain. Raised by my strong mother after losing my father to glioblastoma, biology became my passion at university. I overcame challenges to pursue a scientific career doing a PhD in
the role of RNA metabolism in Intracranial Tumors. Crime novels, drawing, and fitness bring balance to my life. My journey is fueled by my father’s memory and guided by my mother’s support, shaping a well-rounded pursuit of knowledge and passion

About this article

This is one of our shortlisted entries for the 2023 EACR Science Communication Prize. Choosing a winner was incredibly difficult and we’re delighted to be able to share our amazing shortlist.

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