EdusalsaDiscover Your Stanford
  • Posted a year ago

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My Stanford Story

New questions to experiment with.

By Sanjay Siddhanti

In his bestseller Transitions: Making Sense of Life’s Changes, William Bridges discusses some of the challenges that come with “entering the adult world.” He writes: “Some people move very quickly at this time. They get married, launch careers, and begin families. They find a place for themselves fast and make long-range commitments with very little experimenting. Others hang back, trying out several relationships and several jobs and several apartments. They leave school to work for a while, and then return to school after taking some time off to do nothing but travel.”

This conflict between experimenting and committing is very relevant to college students, where decisions such as what to major in, who to spend time with, and where to live seem to weigh heavily on many. While I did some experimenting with different majors, I was always trying to figure out what I wanted to do after college. As I continued to make progress towards a degree in Computer Science, I seriously considered pursuing law school or an MD/PhD program. Most of this experimenting was put on hold during the middle of my sophomore year, when I took a couple bioinformatics classes and suddenly decided that I wanted to work in biomedical data science. And I committed very quickly; within 6 months of my first day in bioinformatics class, I joined a genomics lab, started as a co-term in Biomedical Informatics, and had my Honors thesis proposal approved.

The remaining two years of my time at Stanford revolved around this new interest of mine. I evaluated courses and opportunities based on how they fit into my larger goal, and all of my work felt so much easier because I was able to derive more meaning from it. I was daunted by how much experience some of my role models had, but realized that even I am slowly developing these experiences that could add up over time. In the past year I: completed my Honors thesis, which looked at the genetic underpinnings of congenital heart defects; helped fight cancer with organized data at Flatiron Health; helped lead a research group looking to apply artificial intelligence to problems in healthcare; joined SHIFT, a student group that helps students learn about and participate in healthcare innovation; and accepted a job at Counsyl, which helps people access and interpret their genetic information.

Sometimes I look back fondly on those days, not too long ago, when everything seemed uncertain; it was that uncertainty that pushed me to experiment, to try things I knew nothing about. And, as I get ready to graduate college, I realize that there are a number of new questions that I still need to experiment with and figure out. Something I’ve learned during my time at Stanford is that it’s not worth worrying about these things – they always seem to work out.

In collaboration with Tau Beta Pi

Tau Beta Pi is the only honor society representing the entire engineering profession across the nation. Their chapter at Stanford strives to promote academic excellence, leadership, and continued service to the larger engineering community. They host events and organize initiatives including peer mentoring, K-12 outreach, alumni panels, CEO dinners, project fairs and more. For more info, check out tbp.stanford.edu.

Sanjay Siddhanti

Sanjay ('16) studied Computer Science and Biomedical Informatics in his undergrad, where he researched computational approaches to understand the genome. He likes to play sports, meditate, and read.

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