College is exciting, daunting, and can be a little bit scary as an incoming freshman. I was all of those things as I arrived to start my freshman year of college at Ohio State, which is a great, and very large university. It felt like I was starting over in a sense, I had to make new friends and get acclimated with the new environment I was in. I for one definitely underestimated the difficulty of my first exams, but that helped me transform my study habits and create a plan for my academic success. In a way, doing average on my first round of midterms was better for me than doing well because I was able to change my method of studying sooner rather than later. I also learned to reach out more, and I have since become a regular at my Chemistry professor’s office hours. I learned that professors want you to succeed, and that they are almost always exceedingly helpful in their office hours. Ohio State is a huge university and it has tons of resources to take advantage of. Part of my growth as a student was learning to admit that asking for help was okay, and in general it is a lot more efficient than trying to do it all on your own.
I have also changed and grown in other aspects of my life. In the STEM Scholars program I was part of an experimental design group that created various experiments to show children, and then would go present our projects to them. I have grown more comfortable in my presentation skills, and if anything I have to say that little kids can be more intimidating than adults because they will tell you exactly what they are thinking, good or bad about you. I also decided to apply for the STEM leadership committee, as it seemed like a tremendous opportunity to become more involved in STEM, and also develop my leadership skills. I always regretted not getting involved in high school heavily until my junior year, and so I decided that I would make a change in college. I think STEM has really allowed me to be comfortable in my own skin, and in my authority as a leader. Being in STEM allowed me to practice being authoritative when necessary to keep an event on schedule, or get a group project done. I think that some of the skills I have gained though STEM such as leadership, collaboration skills, and willingness to work would not have been possible other places.
When I first entered the STEM program, I was slightly naïve, and not as mature as I am now. I have changed for the better in my mind. One thing that I remember vividly is coming back home for winter break and realizing how supportive my parents were, and how lucky I was that I had them. I was always encouraged to put school first, and my parents gave me the necessary tools I have now to succeed at college. A lot of the people I knew in high school did not have the same opportunities that I have had this past year in STEM and various other activities and it really led me to be more appreciative. I think that was a tangible change in my perspective on my life, and it was really eye opening. Coming in to STEM scholars my idea of what it would be like is a lot different than what it actually is. I’m not sure what I thought it would be completely, but I thought that we would be doing a lot more busy work. As I have realized though that that is not the case though, and that is a good thing in my opinion. STEM members were taught to think for themselves and to engage in original inquiry, which is an essential skill for after college. Looking in on myself now I see a young man that still has lots of room to grow, but with more of the tools to succeed in my next few years of undergrad. I have more confidence in myself and my abilities, and I know that with a little help, and a lot of hard work, my goals are not as far off as they may seem.