Casey Melton ’19, Astrophysics

The only thing that I knew about college coming in was what I wanted to major in — astrophysics. I enjoyed physics because it was challenging for me, and I had to work hard to try to understand it. And I loved astronomy because space is unfathomable and immense and we as humans know very little about it. Marry the two, and you get a perfect enigma of a field that nobody has ever really been able to wrap their mind around. As I got deeper into my major classes, I grew close with the people in my small departments, and have received incredible support from other students and faculty mentors alike. Going to a small college has made it very easy to approach professors about research, so I have been doing research in some capacity since the end of my first year, and have just finished my first summer of research at a different university. My research experience and the ability to meet new people has been amazing for me, and has continued to foster my curiosity in astrophysics. I am now going into my third year, and although the typical career path post-graduation is pursuing a higher degree, I am still exploring a wide variety of options as to what I could do after I leave Wellesley. Personally, although I love research, I do not love the idea of always being in academia. But, I have loved volunteering at public nights at the observatory, and have learned that I really enjoy outreach, which is not something that is necessarily emphasized in graduate school. Because of this, I have been exploring the idea of working at a museum or planetarium post-graduation, instead of going directly to graduate school like many of my peers may choose to do. I think that it is important to remember, no matter your major or interests, that you should be open to ideas and paths that are not necessarily the norm. In doing so, you may ignite a passion within yourself you did not know you had. In my experience, it has almost always been worth it to take a chance and take a detour from the path I am following. I've had a lot more fun that way, and gained many valuable experiences I would not have had otherwise.