I guess I made it through two years of college. Well, I don’t know that “made it through” is the right way to describe it. I think that I did more than make it through. I met what seems like enough new people to compose entire cities, I put more of myself into my work than I ever have before, and I made some awesome friends. And throughout the past two years ENR has had a soft, but firm influence on me.
To me, the biggest impact ENR scholars has had on me was the people that I met. I came to college to meet diverse people. At first glance, maybe a scholars program wouldn’t be the best place for this. I signed up to live with people who were passionate about the environment, so this weeds out anyone with differing opinions. However, I think that ENR has greatly contributed to the diversity of people that I met. Here is a picture of Mady, Maureen, myself, Alexis, and Jake during the beginning of first semester freshman year.
Because of ENR, these are some of the first people I met at OSU, and they are all among my best friends. Had it not been for ENR scholars, it is likely that none of us would be anything other than faces that occasionally cross paths on the sidewalk. But because of ENR, I met these people, all of whom are incredibly passionate, well-rounded, funny, adventurous, and optimistic.
All of them have taught me a lot in the past two years. This is what comes to mind, but it is the tip of the (unfortunately melting) iceberg: Mady has enthusiastically taught me a lot about the hierarchy of beehives, as well as given me tours of the greenhouse in the building of the lab she works at, and generally instilled enthusiasm in me about things that I otherwise wouldn’t have been overly interested in; Maureen has given me an opportunity to reevaluate the choices that I make with regards to food at a time in my life where I have more control over what I eat than I’ve ever had before. She grew up in a family that processes locally grown tomatoes, and as an animal science major, has perspectives on farming that challenge much of what I had held to be true; Alexis has an infectious attitude of adventure that has taught me to be more comfortable with experiences that aren’t familiar. She has changed her major several times in spite of being capable of completing any of the degrees, and despite never having been out of the country, is going to both Spain and Guatemala this summer; Jake has reinforced the importance of giving back. He has talked in depth about how he is willing to live frugally to create change and is not concerned about the amount of money that he will make at a job, he is concerned about the impact he will have on people and communities.
This past semester, I have been fulfilling the requirements of the second year project through tutoring Columbus City high school students in math and science in preparation for the Ohio Graduation Tests (OGT). I enjoyed this more than my volunteering at the Fawcett Center first semester because I could see the difference I was making with the students, and they were all very genuinely thankful for the time I was spending with them. I was helping them graduate from high school, which could have a very real effect on the rest of their lives.
Now that my time in ENR is over, I am tasked with giving advice to incoming students next year. Here it is: You have a lot more freedom over how you spend your time in college than ever before in your life. There are arguments that could be made for choosing your time on one thing over another. I don’t think it matters that much what you choose, but whatever things you do choose make sure they make you genuinely excited, and make sure that you are actually present in mind and body for all hours of your time. Don’t do something just to put it on your resume. Don’t go through the motions. Be there. Give it all of yourself. Change because of it.