Ayan Bhattacharjee, C’23, was insistent on being pre-med and becoming a physician when he came to Penn. He liked chemistry, but at first saw those classes as a way to learn what he needed to become a physician. Things changed when he took a class called Theory of Probability.
“I gained a greater appreciation of the material by going deeper and understanding, just continuously asking, ‘why?’” Bhattacharjee says. “That led me to believe that a career in research, where I would be asking more of those questions, was the right fit for me.”
A chemistry major who is also enrolled in the MS in Chemistry program, Bhattacharjee is an accomplished musician, having played clarinet for eight years. He was a member of the Penn Symphony Orchestra, participated in the Music and Social Change program, and has taught piano through the Platt Performing Arts Houses After School Arts Program.
Coming to Penn has allowed Bhattacharjee to become more independent and to pursue things like teaching and research. He now sees different possibilities for his future. “There are different ways to be a scientist or a physician,” he says. “You can be as ambitious as possible and shoot for the top, but there’s also a way of maximizing how many people you talk to and how many people you can be kind to, and how much compassion you can show. At Penn I’ve come to adopt more of the second mindset.”
Pathways is a student series from Penn Arts & Sciences that highlights the academic journeys of students in the College of Arts & Sciences and the transformational moments that have shaped their intellectual experiences.