As the academic year is coming to an end, my second year at The Ohio State University has been a wild ride to say the least. Tackling 17 credit hours divided between organic chemistry, biochemistry, and physics definitely demanded more of me than I anticipated. However, amidst the many hours of coursework I inadvertently scheduled myself for, I did find time to enhance my extracurricular involvement here: I got involved with Inspire OSU, a student organization that meets weekly to take on a variety of different simple service projects that benefit a variety of different groups. I enjoyed it so much that I ended up applying to the executive board, and I am currently training to take on my position “VP of Social Media” for the 2016-2017 academic year. I also went out on a limb and scoured the Chemistry and Biochemistry faculty database, and sent countless emails before meeting with Dr. Shafaat and talking with her about the research she is conducting here. I’ve started attending her weekly group meetings, and I will so begin training to take on my position as a student researcher in her lab.
While finding a new balance between my commitments, I also was working closely with Crystal Dunlevy, my faculty adviser, in developing my STEP proposal. At first, I wasn’t sure I was going to go through with the STEP program, because first semester it was a very heavy time commitment and I had plenty of other things to worry about. However, Crystal made our meetings fun and engaging, and I actually wanted to go to our events. This semester, we met much less, and she helped me and my group to devise our formal proposals that were due April 1st. As of right now, my tentative plan is to use my fellowship money to go on a Buck-I-Serv trip to Cape Town, South Africa, working with a local mission there for two weeks over the summer to provide food and other services that the locals need.
Unfortunately, because I significantly increased my involvement and responsibilities on campus, I found that I had less time to myself. I simply did not have enough time to balance my extracurricular, academics, social life, and personal health, and because of this, I struggled. I can say with confidence that this past year has beaten me up and knocked me down more times than I’ve ever been knocked down before. I’m still struggling, but I have not been broken yet. I’ve made it through this much, and I’m not going to let the last two weeks get the best of me.
Even though I’ve struggled, I have grown so much as a student as well as a person over the past several months out of necessity. With the level of commitment I now have to multiple organizations and departments, I’ve simply had to grow up fast or get left behind. Compared to freshman year, I have developed immensely better study skills, I am better at prioritizing my assignments, and I am better at making decisions, even at the cost of “missing out” on something else. Also, with all of the hardships I’ve had, I’ve realized how strong I actually am. Looking back, it would have been so easy to simply give up at so many different moments, but I pushed through. And those moments that were so difficult are past me, and have no weight on my situation now. Coming to this realization has definitely helped me cope with stress better, which I was very poor at originally.
Looking forward, I think this past year has prepared me well for my future. I’ve been pushed to my limits and subjected to levels of stress that I didn’t think I would be able to handle, but I’ve made it. Rounding off my second year, I’ve finally begun taking classes pertinent to biochemistry and psychology, which have only reaffirmed to me that I am studying the right field. I still plan on attending medical school after finishing my undergraduate degrees, and I don’t see that changing either.
Overall, I definitely underestimated what I was signing up for this semester. Freshman year was difficult, but I handled myself very well and didn’t have to change my habits all that much. However, this year, I had to change and grow. Quickly. There were plenty of times I thought I was going to crack under all the stress I was experiencing, but I made it through. And after recharging over the summer, I am going to be ready to take on what my final two years here at The Ohio State University is going to offer me, and I could not be more excited.