I began my academic journey with the goal to graduate with universal skills that are helpful to others and flexible. Further, I wanted these acquired skills to alter the way I interact with the world: as a contributor who has the capacity and the responsibility to change it. In my sophomore year, I was granted acceptance into Dr. Christopher Del Negro's systems neuroscience lab. From that point on, I have prioritized my research at the very, very top of my list. I am sure that if I were to total the number of hours I have spent in this lab over the past year it would be a number larger than that of any other activity I have done in my time at W&M. I mention this as a heuristic of how there is no other place I would rather work and learn on this campus. I am fortunate to report our recent progress: my first project, in conjunction with a senior graduate student has been submitted for presentation at the biannual conference of the Federation of European Neuroscience Societies (FENS), which will be held July 2-6, 2016 in Copenhagen, Denmark. The study is now being readied for publication in a peer-reviewed neuroscience journal. Through this development as a scientist, I have actualized many of the academic goals I set before convocation. I can now manipulate biological materials to address important questions pertaining to brain science and physiology, a pursuit that appeals to my creativity, that also as implications for helping others in a fundamental way in the future. Considering all of the intellectual stretches, risks taken, and challenges faced in these past few years, I am better prepared to understand what goals I should set for myself moving forward. Immediately, my goals include advancing knowledge through more advanced and meaningful research leading to first-author publication. After graduation, I plan a career where my laboratory, community, and entrepreneurial passions intersect: beginning with a Ph.D in synthetic biology.