Student Voices

We asked past SpringForward participants to share their stories and tell us about their first year of college. In these stories, participants share their struggles and triumphs in their first year of college, how the SpringForward program helped them find success, and their tips and advice for future students.


The Butterfly by Seleemah Mustapha (SpringForward 2023 Cohort)

I started the year off as caterpillar

Rolling around and barely getting by

The sky seemed so far away from my view on the ground

My footsteps were my only way of getting around

It was scary on the ground, on the bottom, some might say

There were tangles of weeds I had to fight every day

I was under the watchful eye of the birds in the sky

All I could think was “why do they get to fly?”

How come I was here, stuck on the ground

When they flew and they soared; knowing no bounds.

And then one day, out of the blue

I started to experience something entirely new

I stumbled upon a leaf, a pillar strong on its own

I stuck to it’s shade where no light was shown

And then weeks went by, it felt like forever

But it was within those moments I truly did treasure

The patience I had, for myself and who I was

I kept building around me, no longer covered in fuzz

And suddenly, I began to grow wings

I couldn’t believe it

This was the new me

I could fly to heights that I had never known

And come back down to help other caterpillars that weren’t fully grown

Because I know how hard it is to to be stuck on the ground

Feeling so lonely, but now I am found.

I can step- No! Fly to my next journey through life

Knowing that I can only go up, despite the struggle and strife

I hope I can remain a butterfly, but I’m glad I started the year off as a caterpillar

My journey was a tough one, and I was so bitter

But now every time that I look in the mirror I remind myself of how far I’ve come, and who I want to be

A butterfly, that was finally free

Read Josie Carcamo’s story

“I did not have to study much or do homework outside of school. This led to my study skills being subpar and this severely impacted my first semester.

I did not put much time or effort into studying which led to me receive poor grades on my midterms. I also did not look for outside help like tutoring or office hours as I was in my high school mindset of “I’ll figure it out on my own at some point.” I continued this way until I received my second midterm back. At this point, I saw that my ways were not going to get me through the semester but it was too late and I just tried to pass my classes. I ended my semester failing my math class and just passing my chemistry class. I pushed studying off till the last moment and did not spend much time outside of class reviewing any learning objectives that gave me any problems. At this point I need to find a way to fix my habits or I would not be able to get through my classes. This is the point where I learned about the SpringForward program … [and] ESEPSY 2059. … I ended my semester in a much better position than my first semester.”

Watch Carter Krannitz’s story

Carter shares the three things he struggled with the most (time management, asking for help, approach to studying) and gives tips for overcoming them.

Read Varsha Prabu’s story

“I did not research my chosen major beforehand. Biochemistry is an intense degree. I was not prepared for the amount of work that would go into doing school work everyday after being able to do the bare minimum and get A’s my entire life. It felt like no matter what I did, I always managed to fall behind. Something that I struggled with specifically was time management. I would always tell myself that there was time for something, and then end my days having done nothing at all. … I remember feeling absolutely hopeless. I ended up withdrawing a class AND failing a class that semester … I had never seen my GPA so low in my life. … At that point I did not feel like I had much to lose, so I went ahead and scheduled for the class. ESEPSY 2059 introduced me to what studying in college should look like. … Although I had a rocky start to college, I am now premed.”