Etymology & Solving Problems the Pandemic Has Brought to Light

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Etymology & Solving Problems the Pandemic Has Brought to Light

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Etymology and the way words have changed over time has always fascinated me, and the COVID-19 pandemic certainly has contributed and will contribute to how many words are interpreted in society. An example of this that has crossed my mind numerous times in the past few weeks is the word ‘quarantine’. Before the pandemic, I always envisioned ‘quarantine’ as being locked in a bright, spacious room in a hospital after getting off an airplane because I had some infectious disease. It always felt lonely, frightening, and uncertain to me. Who would’ve known that quarantine could also mean feeling those same emotions in our own homes? The word itself has become so commonplace and normal to hear because of what is currently happening. I’ve heard some people call quarantine “the q” and many other casual names as an attempt to nickname and accept the situation we are all in, which is only normal. After this pandemic is over, our perspective of the word ‘quarantine’ will be much less serious, as I was describing earlier with the dying of an infectious disease alone in a scary hospital room, and this may not be a good thing. There are already people not taking social distancing measures seriously at all, i.e. those who are currently protesting them, those who are leaving their houses to spend time with others without leaving six feet between them, and many more. If the novel coronavirus returns in the years to come or another disease that requires quarantine measures, especially stricter measures, spreads, then I fear that many won’t take these future quarantines as seriously. However, it is completely possible that the exact opposite will happen, but in order for people to learn from this pandemic, factual information, not disease, needs to be spread. Just like many other global issues, a solution to the course this pandemic has taken not being repeated again in the years to come is education, factual information, and learning from the mistakes we’ve made.
Personally, this pandemic has further solidified my dream of becoming a biomedical engineer. I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how hard I’d be working if I were only a few years older, but I don’t really have the tools at my disposal right now to do what I’d want to do, which makes me sad. I am coming up with a lot of my own ideas about devices, inventions, and improvements I’d like to make in the future, though. I was talking to my mentor and biggest inspiration on Friday about how this pandemic will change the future of the medical field, including the biomedical engineering field, and how I am going to be able to experience it firsthand. My biggest dream in life has always been to open my own research and development laboratory that is ideally nonprofit and would focus on helping those in third world countries and those who are usually underrepresented in the medical field like minorities. I’ve always been inspired by the HIV/AIDS pandemic and the mistreatment people in the LGBTQ+ community received by medical professionals. It is sickening to me to watch something similar happen before my own eyes, as Black people and Latino people are dying at disproportionately higher rates than other races, and the treatment they receive in medical situations is known to be equal to that of their White counterparts. Again, the only way to solve this problem is through education and awareness, but I hope my future lab will be able to contribute.

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