The End of Chapter One

It is crazy to consider that one single year could contain both such amazing ups and such challenging downs. However, I believe my freshman year of college somehow managed to house both ends of the spectrum.

After leaving Morgantown, West Virginia for the summer on May 6th, 2017, I’ve had time to reflect over my first year of college as a whole. Starting at the very beginning — the months leading up to school. I felt nothing but pure excitement to be moving on to the next chapter of my life and starting fresh in a sense. I never once felt anxious or nervous about being thrown into a campus with a population of somewhere around 35,000 people of whom I had no previous relation to. That large number never once intimidated me or discouraged me from attending such a large university. After spending my last few months in Granite Falls, North Carolina with some of the people who at the time mattered most to me and some of the people who still matter most to me, the big day finally rolled around — move in day. Everything about that day seemed absolutely surreal to me and the concept of what was happening did not truly hit me until I stood on the curb waving goodbye to a vehicle in motion that contained my two closest friends — my parents. After my parents departed, I returned to my room and immediately started organizing my drawers and my closest because I wanted everything to be absolutely perfect. By then, I had met my roommate and both of my suitemates and had heard about the Honors Hall cookout that would be happening in the courtyard. A couple hours passed, and soon enough it was time to face the other couple hundred of Honors Hall residents. This is something that I was not truly thrilled to do. I remember making my way from the fifth floor to the lobby, seeing the mass of people sitting outside in the courtyard, and instantly feeling extremely small and intimidated. I didn’t want to walk in front of the large crowd gathered outside, so I remember using the backdoor, walking all the way around the building, and joining the crowd at the very back. Throughout the time of the cookout I managed to remain tied to my roommate’s hip and not mingle with a single person.

Flash forward to the end of first semester. I had persevered through some very draining emotional challenges from both at school and from home, rocky friendships, and did not feel as if West Virginia University was the place for me. After years of being dead set on attending WVU, it was hard for me to think that I had made the wrong decision in picking where to spend the next four plus years of my life, but nonetheless I thought it. Though I never really spoke about this issue because I didn’t want to let anyone down. I spent my Christmas break cherishing my time at home but slightly dreading my return back to school that would happen in January. However, I accepted that my return must occur and went back with a fresh mind and a positive attitude.

I cannot truly describe what happened second semester, but I sure am glad it happened. I spent my second semester of freshman year in brutally challenging STEM classes, getting back into my passion of dance, and getting myself out there. Seeing how fast my first semester had gone, I realized just how fast my four years of college would go by. This helped rejuvenate my mindset and completely changed my perspective on life. My new life motto soon became to “take chances, take risks, and don’t be held back because you’re too scared to try something.” I started to meet more people, talk to strangers, go out more, involve myself more on campus, and ultimately started to find my niche on campus. My journey throughout second semester cast all my doubt about choosing the wrong college to the side, and showed me that I was surrounded by wonderful, intelligent, and interesting people. I consider all 35,000ish students to be a part of my Mountaineer family, and I would not want it any other way.

I really enjoy looking back on the rollercoaster of thoughts and feelings I had throughout my freshman year of college. From pure excitement to a sense of not belonging to feeling at home — I would not change it for any other experience. I made some wonderful friendships, made unforgettable memories, and learned more about myself throughout the entirety of this year. I truly believe that I am so incredibly lucky to have something that makes saying goodbye — if only for a few months — so hard. Even if going back means enrolling in more chemistry classes which I am convinced will be the death of me.

I would like to touch on the last sentence of the above paragraph a little more. My second chemistry course of the year was most definitely the hardest academic obstacle I have ever faced in my entire life. I spent countless hours completing homework, doing 10+ practice exams, and extra book work before each exam and still performed extremely poorly on the actual exams. By midterm my lecture grade, which at the time did not include my lab grade, was an F. Yes, you read that right — an F. Never in my entire school career had I had a midterm grade that low. That letter grade and the course material weighed on me each and every night. Usually it would result in me getting upset and feeling like giving up. I had talked to my advisor about D/F repeating the course if worse came to worse or simply dropping it completely and retrying in the fall of 2017. My advisor made it clear that it was an option which was completely left open to my own devise. One day before the last day to drop courses, I decided to continue on with my worst enemy of a chemistry class (Side Note: this decision was weighed over very heavily and I am at partial thanks to my loving parents for their endless support and their useful input❤). However, I started to go see my professor and talk over problems on past exams and material that wasn’t clicking. Immediately after talking to him in his office, things began to click. I turned my failing exam grades around to A’s and B’s and ultimately came out of the course with a final grade of a B. Albeit it is not an A, which of course I strive for in all of my courses, I felt as if I had worked the hardest in my life to attain this letter grade. After I could relax after the final grade letters were posted, I had some time to think back and reflect on what went wrong. I contribute part of my original failure to being intimidated by the course. Going into the class at the beginning of the semester, I knew Chemistry 116 was one of the two most failed courses at the University, the other being Calculus 155 which I was also enrolled in. I believe I talked myself down from performing my best because I was frightened by the reputation of the course.

I write about this particular challenge because I believe that there are lessons that can be taken away from it. First and foremost — DON’T GIVE UP. Although you may struggle and cry through every minute of it, things can always look up and change course. It all depends upon your attitude and outlook. Either you can fall victim to whatever hurdle you may be facing, or you can stand tall and power through. Secondly, I think this event shows the importance of talking to others. Going to my professors was something I had never done in the past seeing as I never truly struggled in a course. However, upon going to my professor, things immediately changed. DON’T BE AFRAID TO SEEK OUT HELP. Faculty and staff want nothing more than to see you succeed. Never be afraid to reach out because honestly they WANT to help you!

I would like to end this reflection by including some events I attended that were valuable and enjoyable to me. Also, I will include events and honors that I find to be of utmost importance to me and things that I feel extremely proud of from my first year as an undergraduate student.

Events:

  • Honors Day of Service — serving food and flood relief efforts at Clay County High School
  • Jackson’s Mill — Stop Hunger Now & Shotgun Range
  • Monday Night Lights
  • Late night capture the flag tournaments
  • Father Patrick Desbois lecture at Carnegie Mellon
  • Career Fair and interview time with the Federal Bureau of Intelligence
  • Milo Yiannopoulos post election day lecture
  • African Drum Circles
  • Bryan Stevenson’s lecture on Just Mercy — his own work
  • Briefing from the Central Intelligence Agency
  • Robert Deprospero’s lecture — US Secret Service
  • STRFKR tour at Mainstage Morgantown
  • Mountaineerthon — raising money for the Children’s Miracle Network
  • Student Government Association Inauguration

Honors:

  • Finalist in Mountaineer Idol
  • Selected as Student Government Association’s Vice President’s Intern
  • Sang at the Fall Family Weekend Parent’s Breakfast with the Honors Vocal Ensemble
  • Invited to sing at the Mountaineer Week Banquet as the special guest
  • Honors Biology Symposium presentation — novel creation of a Malaria preventative vaccination
  • Making the Dean’s list
  • Acceptance into Helvetia Sophomore Honorary — Sundaes on Sunday at President Gee’s Blaney House
  • Competitor in Dancing With Our Mountaineer Stars as a “WVU star”
  • Acceptance into the RA program and positioning into Seneca Hall, the newest established dorm as of last semester
  • Induction into Alpha Lambda Delta Freshman Honor Fraternity
  • Invited to the Honor’s College rising junior/senior cookout event
  • Selected as Student Government Association’s Executive Secretary for 2017–2018
  • Selected as Helvetia Vice President