Jennifer Marer has always loved writing. From getting in trouble for reading books instead of doing her work while in fourth grade, to making newsletters for her friends about upcoming events in sixth grade, she knew she wanted to pursue a career in the field.
Her feelings about biology were different. Since she grew up around doctors and hated hospitals, she tried to resist liking anything involving medicine.
“But at the end of high school, I had to be honest with myself and accept that I liked learning about evolution and cells almost as much as I liked reading Percy Jackson,” Marer said.
Now a senior at Case Western Reserve University, Marer thought double majoring in biology and English would be a great way to stay involved in both the STEM and humanities fields.
“I feel like they’re both at the heart of what it means to be human,” she explained. “I firmly believe that they’re two sides of the same coin. Literature is a form of storytelling, and I think these stories are key to understanding ourselves and others. Similarly, biology allows us to comprehend why and how humans came to be on micro and macro levels.”
Marer chose to study these passions at CWRU because the university easily allowed her to dive into both majors—and she stayed because of the wonderful community she found. Her time in college hasn’t always been easy, though.
Marer has had an uphill battle with mental health issues over the past few years, something many people can relate to—especially high-achieving students.
“It’s a competitive school, and I’ve had the pleasure and pride of seeing a lot of my friends succeed,” she said. “Unfortunately, when you have a bad semester or you’re struggling with your self-worth, being surrounded by success can make you feel very lonely. It’s difficult to ask your friends for help when you’re feeling insecure, because it can feel like an admission of lower worth, but that’s the moment when it’s most necessary to ask.”
Marer used therapy to hone her ability to be honest with her support system and learned to reach out when she needed help. She came to understand that her struggles with self-worth weren’t exclusive to her—she only got to see the highlights and accomplishments of other people, “but they probably went through the same feelings of loneliness and hesitation before reaching their goals.”
In her time at Case Western Reserve, Marer has been a part of Solstice, an all-treble acapella group; and she’s a member of Sigma Tau Delta, the English honor society on campus. She’s also had internships with Empowering Youth, Exploring Justice and Ideastream Public Media, a news outlet that owns the copyrights to NPR, PBS and other public radio stations. There, she wrote articles for the arts and culture department every week on Cleveland events (such as this).
When she graduates, Marer plans to enter the publishing industry, but is also open to working in journalism or entertainment.
“Whatever the case, I want to bring my biology background to whatever I do,” she added. “With the pandemic still very much present, STEM journalism is especially cool to me, but I’m also interested in exploring research or genetic counseling careers further down the line.”