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Joshua Yamamoto '88, Physician


Seize the day -- with physics

Life is too precious to spend it wasting time living up to someone else's expectations! Look, you've already made it into Princeton. Avail yourself of the opportunity to follow your intellectual passion while you have the chance.

I was a physics major. There were only about two dozen of us. From a physics-major perspective, there were only three main majors on campus: physics, engineering, and ''English-major-types.'' Mathematicians were just physics majors who couldn't handle the lab. Non-pre-med chemists were just physicists who couldn't handle quantum mechanics. Pre-meds were, well, pre-meds.

I was a physics major because I thought that physics was cool. In fact, I was (and am) too stupid to be a physicist. I had a C average and muddled through. After Princeton, I joined the Fire Department. I eventually went to medical school (oh, the shame of it all!), but I would point out that I was never a pre-med. I was commissioned in the Navy (because I was broke), but now I am the cardiology consultant to the attending physician to Congress. I get paid pretty well, hobnob with people who think they are important, practice good medicine, wear pajamas all day, and go home at 4 p.m. and coach Little League.

Find your passion

The point is: I followed my intellectual passions. I learned how to be a lifelong learner. Even if I would never have made it as a real scientist, I got an education because I did what I enjoyed.

I recommend against being ''pre'' anything (e.g., pre-med, pre-law, pre-whatever). Pay attention and fulfill your requirements, but enjoy your education. Don't be afraid of the anthropology department, even if no one knows where it is. Take 300-level classes in things outside your major. (If you're a physics major, it'll help your GPA.)

Your parents didn't raise you to be lemmings, so knock it off. There are plenty of economists/lawyers/political English-major types already in this world. There are not enough passionate, educated people. So, do what you want.

Then, get a job.

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