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A circuitous path

Brian Hogan's journey to becoming a teaching professor in the College of Arts and Science's chemistry department has been anything but a straight path. But through perseverance and an ask for help, the Tar Heel found a way to quiet the doubt that lingered in the back of his mind.

brian hogan standing outside.

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When Brian Hogan started his undergraduate studies, he thought he had his future as a scientist all figured out.

That feeling lasted until his first chemistry test, which he promptly failed.

“I felt like, ‘Well, I guess I’m done. I guess I’m not going to be a science major,” Hogan said. “Mentally, I started to doubt myself. I started to doubt that I could even do it.”

That doubt never really went away for Hogan. Even as he earned his Ph.D. in chemistry and landed a position as a teaching professor in the College of Arts and Science’s chemistry department, those thoughts of doubt and imposter syndrome lingered. It wasn’t until he asked for help and began working with mental health professionals that he turned a corner.

“It’s hard to change the way that you view the world when you’ve spent your whole adult life being really negative,” he said. “Once I changed the way that I looked at serving other people and being a teacher and being a mentor, I began to feel, ‘This is what makes me feel better about myself. It fills my soul.’ I’m lucky that I get to go to college every day for the rest of my life and be around really wonderful students as a college professor, that I can play some small part in their lives, and I get to do it over and over and over again, which is really rewarding.”

He now aims to help his students find joy in their lives.

“It’s OK if you don’t feel like your life is going in this perfect straight line,” Hogan said. “I’ve gotten to a point in my life where everything is going pretty well, but it wasn’t always easy and my path to get there was really circuitous, but I did persevere. I was able to get through it, and maybe they will find a little bit of solace in this story. I’ve been there. It turned out OK.”