This year may have been the most challenging year of my life. While the jump from high school to college was a difficult one, the jump from the first year to the second year made the former look like a hole in the ground. From officially starting major classes to becoming a Peer Leader for CHEM 1611/1622, this year was one that tested me and gave me new confidence on how I can persevere in life.
After years of hearing how difficult organic chemistry was, I can finally confirm the rumors are true. CHEM 2910H (Honors Organic Chemistry I) was a class I was unprepared for, one where I got my lowest ever exam grade. It was also the class that kickstarted my semester and made me realize my habits last year would not do well this year. After classes last semester, I’d relax for the rest of the day. This year, I made it a point to change my note-taking habits, I’ve gone to office hours, and I’ve begun reviewing material as soon as I’m out of class. My year did not become any easier after CHEM 2910H. My second semester held classes like CHEM 2520 (Organic Chemistry II), BIOCHEM 5613 (Biochemistry I) and PHYSICS 1251 (Calc-based Physics II). If I was not busy memorizing the structure of all amino acids and nucleotides, I would be integrating an equation to calculate the electric flux through a surface. Free time quickly became a privilege instead of a right.
Besides academics, this year was also one that invited new extracurriculars into my life. As a Peer Leader for CHEM 1611 and CHEM 1622, I worked on a worksheet with a small group of students in a classroom setting. While working on worksheets was rewarding enough, I felt proud that I can finally share my college experience with freshmen students that have no idea what’s coming to them. My students were never shy to ask me anything, and I hope that they use my advice wisely. In addition to being a Peer Leader, I also volunteered at the Ohio House of Science and Engineering. As a volunteer, I held open “office hours” for two hours every Monday, and students can come in and work on any chemistry problems that they had trouble with. Additionally, I participated in BuckeyeThon, a dance marathon. BuckeyeThon was one of the most amazing experiences I’ve ever had, and I regret not doing it last year. Knowing that I had a helping hand in curing pediatric cancer is something I will never let go, and I hope to do it again in the future. I participated in the Muslim-American Society, a community where I could converse with people that shared similar life experiences, and gained a better grasp at discerning what makes us different. Lastly, I began exploring research opportunities, and secured a spot in Dr. Jaroniec’s lab researching protein structure using NMR spectroscopy.
While all of the above helped shape my year, the biggest lesson I learned was one that I could not get in my classes or extracurriculars. For all of my life, I had considered myself an independent person, not needing the support of others to succeed. This year changed all that. The presence of a community, of friendship, is one that pushed me forward when I was going through a rough time. Everyone needs someone, and the Honors Program has done a great job at connecting me with people who will not only support me, but make me the best version of myself. And for that, I thank everyone, and I can’t wait for my third year here at The Ohio State University.