Office Hours: Dante’ Zanders
Dante’ Zanders @Countryguruz
Biomedical Sciences M.S. Student at Texas A&M University
B.S. in History, Technology, & Society from Georgia Tech
What inspired you to attend grad school?
I needed to answer a few questions:
Did I actually enjoy physiological sciences or was it just a particular subject that I was proficient in because of a hard work ethic?
Could I actually handle and perform proficiently in advance level science courses?
Was this a path that I chose to be on or was it a path I was choosing because everybody else wanted me to do it?
Tell me about your proudest grad school moment. Why was it special for you?
My proudest grad school moment up until this point has been passing a required, 5 credit hours, Systemic Physiology course taught by 4 different professors. It’s special because the course is only taught in the Fall, and I plan on graduating in May. This course is notorious for its difficulty. Each year, this year included, 1/3 or more of the class drops the course and has to retake it. It has shown me that I can handle rigorous physiology material similar to what I’d see in professional school.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve gotten while in grad school?
Fall in love with the process and chase your passions.
If you had to describe your Black grad experience with one song, which one would it be?
Future— "You Deserve It." This isn’t some random feat. I didn’t get lucky. It’s a product of my faith, hard work, and determination. The path that brought me here is a lot different than others. I’m pursuing an advanced STEM degree in Biomedical Sciences, but I have a non-traditional science bachelor’s degree. I’ve taken an unconventional route to get here but I’ve proven that I deserve to be here.
What has been your biggest obstacle in grad school? What strategies have you used to try to overcome it?
My biggest obstacle involved adjusting to moving halfway across the country to an unfamiliar environment with no friends or family. Naturally, I’m a more introverted type of person, but in order for me to grow and thrive out here, I had step out of my shell. That involved making a new core group of friends because it’s difficult trying to get through grad school with a loner mindset. Making new friends and having a core group that I associate myself with has definitely made this transition a lot easier.
What has this experience (pursuing a graduate degree) taught you about yourself?
It’s taught me that discomfort is growth, and that I have the ability to adapt and survive in any environment. No matter how unfamiliar it may seem.
How do you think your identities have informed your graduate experience?
I think its reinforced what I already knew. As a black male, it was almost as if I had to prove myself through my exam performances to the other non-black students in the program for them to actually believe that I deserved to be there. It wasn’t until after I was performing above average on exams that the non-black students within the program started suggesting that we study together.
How do you intend to use your degree in the future?
I’m still not 100% sure yet but professional school (Veterinary or Medical), working within the biotechnology sector, or the military are a few possible options.
What’s something that you would tell someone who is interested in pursuing a similar path?
If you’re really interested in going to grad school, be sure to thoroughly research the program that you’re applying to. Your program should contribute to your growth in more than just an academic/educational way. To quote a friend, “Graduate school is like having a full-time job. You’re more so an employee for your department who does professional development for a living.”
Feel free to reach out to Dante': firstname.lastname@example.org
Twitter: @Countryguruz, Instagram: @Countryguruze