Growing up, Josh Wright heard that he should become an engineer because he was good at math and science. He also heard that if you’re majoring in engineering, you’d better start right away—it’s a big course load. So without much hesitation, he enrolled at Calvin as a chemical engineering major.
Calvin’s engineering program has a number of strengths that Josh saw right from the start.
“The engineering department offers unique international experience, not only for a Christian college but for any engineering program,” Josh remarked.
He took advantage of the engineering department’s established program in Germany, visiting a total of three times during his four years at Calvin. His third visit was his most memorable.
“I was tasked with optimizing the initial steps of a process that would later produce a cancer drug,” he shared. “I felt like I was at the cutting edge.”
He reflected that this hands-on research was the experience that got him into grad school.
“If you’re applying to any kind of PhD program in STEM, previous research experience is crucial,” he explained.
Josh expected that Calvin’s engineering program would prepare him well to be an engineer. What he didn’t expect was how it challenged him to question his choices.
“In most engineering programs, you don’t have time to think about whether or not it’s a good fit because the course load is so tight,” Josh observed. “But at Calvin, you take classes that make you think about serving God with what you’re doing. I left Calvin with the sense that I wanted to serve God’s people.”
Josh went to Notre Dame to pursue chemical engineering, but he started to notice a tension within himself.
“When you get into academia, the motive for a lot of people is to be known as ‘someone’ and to have fame. I got kind of caught up in it. Calvin prepared me well, and I was doing a good job, but I was not happy,” Josh reflected. “Calvin had instilled in me a healthy discontent that made me realize I wasn’t fulfilling God’s mission.”
Different path, same skills
Josh is now using the skills he developed as a chemical engineer to pursue a different path.
“I decided I wanted my life to be about serving others through medicine.”
And his chemical engineering background has only enhanced his study of medicine.
“Chemical engineering translates beautifully to medicine,” Josh enthused. “I chose to study chemical engineering because I find systems to be fascinating. This same fascination led me to an interest in the circulatory system of the human body.”
Josh encourages students not to feel confined to one career path.
“Don’t look back and think it was all wrong,” Josh advised. “Be willing to change paths and pursue things you’ve always wanted to do.”