"Your journey begins here at the Headwaters of Mississippi, and like the winding of the river, you will face a number of challenges in CBS. But, always remember to keep your eye on the final destination." These words by Dr. Wright at Nature of Life stuck with me for the past two years, and have proven to be worth-while advice. College has been a time to not only acquire critical thinking skills, but to also abandon some of my secular perspectives for open-minded humility. The past two years has introduced me to a number of uncertainties and struggles that I never imagined. Each year, these challenges amplified, academically, and financially.
When students dream of college, they tend to relish on the freedom and the great friendships that accompany the journey. Although I have made some life-long friends, I didn't realize how challenging college can be at times. Failure or the fear of failure has been inevitable, and poverty became an inescapable reality. As one of the smartest students in high-school, I entered college with the notion that I would scrape through classes with minimal studying. This has proven to be anything, but true. Most of the matriculates in CBS graduate at the top of their class in high school, and when we were put together in the same classes, I was no longer the smartest. Hard-work suddenly became my best-friend, and multiple-choice tests my worst enemy. One of the biggest mistakes I have made my freshman year was underestimate the difficulty of my courses. I took 19-credits a semester thinking that I would be able to balance it with work, volunteering, extracurricular activities, research, and maintain some sort of a sane life. I have spent many sleepless-nights at the library catching-up in all my classes. My immense fear of failure motivated me through some of the most challenging times of my life. This fear showed that I had more discipline than I had suspected, and unveiled new heights of my potential. Robin's advice of keeping my eye on my final destination of becoming a physician provided me with further motivation I needed to do well in my classes. Somehow I survived my spring semester without causing damage to my GPA or my health. One of the most important lessons that I learned from that semester was to never underestimate the intensity of science courses. Coming from high school, it may seem as though four classes a semester is manageable. However, college courses tend to cover twice as much material in half as much time. So, it's important to not overestimate your potential, sign-up for too many courses, and perform poorly in them. Although I have had my fair share of successes, I learned that even when I put forth my best efforts, sometimes things fall apart. I might not achieve the grade. Sometimes failure is inevitable, and learning to accept failure is an integral part of life.
Get involved! Academics are only one component of college, and you can only learn so much from your textbooks. A true college graduate, in my opinion, is not only a scholar, but also a leader. I learned quite a bit about myself and improved my leadership qualities by pursuing a wide range of extracurricular activities. As the President of Biological Sciences Research Club, I learned how to effectively collaborate with my officers to organize biweekly events. I faced a number of difficulties ranging from careless officers to untrustworthy speakers, but with each challenging encounter stemmed a great deal of experiential learning. Get involved in research! As a world-class research university, University of Minnesota offers a wide range of research possibilities. If you want to work in Africa on health disparities or explore a cure for HIV, University of Minnesota has it. All you need to do is to take the initiative to ask. From my experience, it's important to pursue basic science research. Working in a research lab has allowed me to apply the knowledge from my classes to novel situations. The exciting part about research is that no one in the world has discovered what you might discover, and your discoveries could push the frontiers of science. As a CBS student, I am involved in anywhere from basic science research in Physiology and Genetics to qualitative study on why patients don't show-up to their appointments at an inner-city clinic to exploring the ethics of medical mission trips through film. At first, it might be challenging to handle extracurricular activities with your academic course work, but you will eventually get a hang of it. All in all, have a blast! College passes by so fast. I can't believe I will be a junior in less than four weeks. Enjoy the journey, and good luck!