Story of an aspiring PhD student

Hi! My name is Sergio (@cosmic_caracol) and I am an Astrophysics Research Assistant and a Planetarium Educator at @utarlington! 🚀

I’m an undergraduate student, but I aspire to be a PhD student. I was afraid about this interview but wanted to contribute to visibility.

Through graduate courses and 2+ years of research, graduate students have become some of my closest friends.


I’m currently finalizing 2 research papers and am excited to apply to graduate school for Astrophysics in the fall.


I come from a single-parent family in poverty. Symptoms of depression appeared sometime before my first suicide attempt at age 13.

I kept another 2 attempts secret, despite hours of convulsions, by blaming food poisoning. It wasn't until I turned 21 that, with the help of my friend’s arm twisting and support, I could finally seek professional help at UTA.They officially diagnosed me with depression and suggested counselling to organize my headspace. I was scared to start the recommended antidepressant regimen, which proved to be too expensive, anyway.

I’ve learned to recognize, accept, and address my depression.

Intimate details of my depression have been revealed through numerous mistakes; I now rely on my support system of friends and family, taking notes of changes in mood and any intrusive thoughts. I take time every day to be outdoors, go on walks, stretch, and eat consciously.

I’m proud of how far my self-awareness has come. My new goal is to convince myself I am worthy of happiness and to believe setbacks do not diminish the chances of a bright future.

To all the people who speak out- Thank You! My struggle made me feel so alone in my department, and brutal daily routines only intensify my depression.

Meeting others who are struggling (especially those with similar backgrounds) is empowering!

*Editor's note*: while Sergio is not yet a graduate student, we wanted to provide an opportunity to show future PhD students that they are also not alone. These types of posts will be in the minority, but we hope you find Sergio's story as we did!


Originally posted on Apr 3, 2018

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