Deirdre Khan is still bothered by a question that was asked of her the first time she was in kindergarten (“it’s worth noting that I had to repeat kindergarten”). What do you want to be?
Khan said unicorn.
Told it wasn’t a job, she then said, “witch.”
“And [the teacher] was like, ‘That’s not a job either.’ To which my response was, ‘Do you mean, how do I want to make money for the rest of my life?’,” the PhD student recalls.
“There’s no particular reason a five- or six-year-old would think that question meant ‘What do I want to do to make money to live?’ It was the wrong question to ask. It was a poorly framed question, which as a scientist still bugs me. And I still think it would be great to be a witch,” she says.
In the end, Khan became something much better: a Vanier Scholar. She shares this prestigious honour with two other U of M students this year.