At age 11, I took black and white photography classes at The University of Toledo. Two years later, I would be a freshman in their engineering program, but that's another story. This is where my photography odyssey began.
After coursework in human anatomy and photography, I received an Pathology Laboratory internship at The Medical College of Ohio. Here, I worked preparing media, samples, and looking for abnormals. While I enjoyed the medical diagnostic aspects, I was much more interested in my darkroom opportunities.
There was quite a lot of film development work performed to support the hospital's Scanning and Transmission Electron Microscope. The best part of this job was the search for the perfect read. At the hospital, they encouraged experimentation with different papers, exposure times, burning and dodging, and other typical techniques meant to bring more detail to certain portions of the image. In school and in personal life, practice on such a scale was cost prohibitive.
It was also cost prohibitive to build my own darkroom in home. The capital expense of a used or small enlarger wasn't very much, a few hundred USD. The consumables, such as developer, stop solutions, and paper media was expensive, but one can do a lot with proof sheets. In such a scenario, the primary expense was the film and film developer. However, the real expense was bringing electrical and plumbing to the right locations in our family home basement. Since my family is medically and not mechanically oriented, this was not going to happen.
I took family vacation photos for fun, and sent them to the local film shoppe. Later, at university, I was an editor for the school newspaper. Instant darkroom access! So, I would up taking own editorial photographs.