Avery August

When Avery August was a college student, he thought his love of science meant he could pursue only one career: medicine.

Stacey Schultz
Nov 6, 2005
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Photo: Jason Varney Photography

When Avery August was a college student, he thought his love of science meant he could pursue only one career: medicine. He was still relatively new to the United States, having moved as a teenager to Los Angeles from the Central American country of Belize. And he was finding his own way through the educational system, first attending community college for two years and then transferring to California State University, where he began taking premedical classes.

But August came to realize that he "wasn't interested in being a physician," he says. "I was interested in how diseases come about and what were the underlying causes of those diseases." He dropped his premed major and "foundered a little," until his organic chemistry professor confronted him. "He asked me, what do I want to do with my life." When August drew a blank, the professor suggested he try...