James Santiago ‘20, Nursing

Posted on November 9th, 2017 by

James Santiago has liked questioning things his whole life. He’s fascinated by seeing chemical reactions and observing the similarities and differences between different organisms on Earth. His interest in pursuing science was “awakened” in high school, when he took a research course focusing on cures for diseases. This course helped him realize that was what he wanted to do with his life was keep investigating things. James is currently interested in becoming either a medical researcher or working in pathology. Either way, he hopes to use his interest in science to pursue a vocation in the healthcare field.

James has many people in his life that he considers influential. A major figure in his life has been his dad, who James says has influenced him both positively and negatively. His dad taught him how to think more realistically, and to value things as they are. James respects these teachings, but he disagrees with his dad on other points. He has also been influenced by his peers at Gustavus, who he says have taught him how to care for small things and not be overly pessimistic. James also thinks that he’s learned from them that weirdness is awesome.

A core belief that James holds is that nothing can be achieved without work. He believes in the value of work and the time you put into something. James says that “you can’t ever get time back”, and feels that wasting time means missing opportunities. However, he does use video games to reset himself and relax, and doesn’t consider this leisure time a waste of time. James believes that this drive to do the work that is needed is common in the nursing discipline. He says that diligence is important in his field, as nursing students have to complete long clinicals and take challenging classes. James is also shaped by his religious beliefs. When he was growing up, he felt that he was forced to go to church. He wanted to establish a relationship with God, but now feels more distant. James doesn’t believe that he does many of the “traditional things” that Christians do, but values the moral teachings his faith can provide. He says that because there are so many different ways to be Christian, he is comfortable ignoring labels and being open to ideas.

There are scientific issues that worry James. One of these issues is our heavy reliance on antibiotics. He says that we are reaching a point where some antibiotics may become ineffective because of overuse, and we could end up with people dying because of it. There are also Biblical issues that worry James as he pursues a scientific vocation. He says that many people believe that the more scientists find concrete evidence for the way the world works, the more Christian views are discredited. To James, this problem comes down to how “fact” is defined, and whether or not you think science can answer every question. Finally, there are things about the way that Christian churches tend to operate that worry James. He says that parents can be so concerned about their children forgetting God that they end up forcing them into church-related activities. James believes that this can backfire and actually negatively impact people’s faith as they grow up, and he would encourage parents to allow their children to explore and figure out their own religious stances.

James’s beliefs have changed as he has pursued his scientific vocation. He believes that in some ways he has become more proud of the work he is doing, though he is careful to distinguish pride from hubris. James is working to find a balance between understanding the role that God plays in his life and acknowledging the hard work that he’s personally doing. As he says, “God doesn’t give out A’s”. This differentiation between what God is doing and what he himself is doing can be a source of some conflict in James’s life.

Despite these personal conflicts, James believes that the pursuit of his vocation is in many ways informed by his faith. He sees science as a way of looking at the world and seeing the immense beauty of creation. James says that he often thinks about how many amazing things can be explored through science, from outer space to the environment to other organisms. As he puts it, there could always be something to discover so incredible “that it could change our whole mindset”. His love of questioning and discovering more about the way that the world works, influenced in some ways by his faith, has led James to pursue a vocation in science.


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