Divyangana Rakesh graduated from University of Delhi, one of India's premier undergraduate universities with a B.Sc. in biochemistry. While she was at University of Delhi, she dappled in several extracurricular activities, one of which was debating, "During my time there, I realised my love for public speaking and communication in general and I started to think that my expertise lay elsewhere, not science. This period was rather confusing for me because I found that I loved so many different things and I wanted to do them all, which was obviously impossible. I wanted to teach, read, study history, biology, astrophysics and so much more. My ambivalence led me to doing an MBA from MICA, one of the best institutes in India for Marketing, and I was then recruited by L’Oreal to be a part of their esteemed and selective Management Trainee program in Mumbai, along with a handful of other students. I worked for L’Oreal for around three years as a brand manager. My apathy towards marketing and consumer behaviour became clear to me rather quickly, and this period of my life, while professionally dissatisfying, was important for my personal growth. I learnt a lot about myself, mostly about what I didn not like and did not want to do, which I believe is sometimes more important, because its difficult to know exactly what it is that you want to do for the rest of your life.
While this may sound a little hackneyed and banal, I asked myself to close my eyes and picture my future, and all I saw was an empty lecture hall. I didn’t even have to think about what it is that I would want to teach, I had the answer all along. My interest in neuroscience had been building for several years and it was now time to take it further. I decided to apply for masters programs abroad and that led me to the NeuroBIM program at the University of Bordeaux, which I chose both because it gives one the most research experience, and because of the beautiful location. I am now about to graduate the 2 year research program at the top of my class, and I am searching for PhDs that interest me.
Leaving a life of comfort, accompanied by a fat and steady pay check, was not an easy decision to make. I was conflicted for some time, unsure of my decisions, my calibre and scared of the uncertainty. My family was very supportive of my decision to leave. While I do miss the pay cheques, I don’t miss much else, I’m happy about my choices and I don’t regret having done marketing for five years because I am a better scientist for it. I find that I am able to bring my expertise in communication to bear on my scientific research and I believe that it will continue to stand me in good stead for the rest of my life. I now have the freedom to pursue neuroscience and the time to pursue my hobbies: writing, photography (@candid.faces) and reading voraciously. I believe that it’s important to accept uncertainty, believe in yourself, and pursue exactly what you want, because every other option will fall short."