An End is Near: Lessons from Freshman Year

As the semester nears an end, it is safe to say that I have learned a lot this year. I learned how to do the menial, dreaded task of laundry without my mom’s help. I learned how to plan out my meals so I do not starve during my lectures. I have learned how to manage my time, not pull all-nighters, and actually read the syllabus when the professor says to. But most importantly, I have learned about myself. My first year of college was easily the best and worst of my life. Here are a few of the lessons I have learned so far:

  1. Experiment. College is a time to reinvent yourself. I have learned to experiment with as many things as possible: Food, friends, extracurricular activities, style, and study habits. Oftentimes, high school habits bind us to acting and portraying ourself a certain way. Being independent in college has allowed me to experiment with new student organizations, that I would typically not have joined in high school. It has taught me to push myself out of my comfort zone to grow in new ways.
  2. Make mistakes. Yes, we want to play it safe in college, get a killer GPA, and graduate to find a stable job. However, college is one of the only times in your life that you can make mistakes and learn from them. Run for positions in unique organizations, embrace public speaking opportunities, go on spontaneous road trips. You will run into roadblocks along the way, but college is all about seeking the unknown and using that as an opportunity to learn something new about yourself.
  3. Be yourself. As cliche as this sounds, college is not like high school where cliques form and people conform to those groups. People in college are more open-minded and outgoing, so it is easier to be yourself. Do what you want, act how you want, and be true to yourself. As you figure out who you are, your likes and dislikes, you will learn to present yourself to other people. If you just be yourself, people see this genuineness, and appreciate that about you.
  4. Don’t be afraid to talk. People are always emphasizing the importance of networking. I have learned that it is not about how many people you talk to, but how many people you get to know well. It is not about the number of faces you know, but able the relationships you have formed with people. Being in college, you are exposed to so many people ranging from other students to professors. Seek out people, and do not be afraid to make conversation with them. You might end up having a lot more in common with them than you anticipated!

Reflection on Leadership

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“The role of a great leader is not to give greatness to human beings, but to help them extract the greatness they already have inside them” (J. Buchan). Upon reflecting on my experiences in the first year fellowship and as a freshman student at Rutgers in general, I have found that I have grown and learned a lot. I am a very shy individual by nature, but due to how large of a school Rutgers is and how the fellowship has emphasized the importance of networking, I have learned to break out of my comfort zone. For instance, in scenarios where I was in the right in terms of grades, I have learned to respectfully negotiate and fight back for my points. My grades have been the best as they possibly could be, also considering the fact that I have been taking a lot of credits and hard classes together, as a premedical student with computer science major.

Another important insight I have learned is to trust myself more. A lot of times I have had great ideas, but I wouldn’t voice them due to my lack of self-confidence. I am still working towards trusting myself more, however I have definitely learned to at least voice my opinions when it matters. Self-confidence coupled with humility is, arguably, the most important quality as a leader. If you exude confidence, while allowing and encouraging others to have a say, people will always follow you. After all, how can you expect others to trust and follow you when you can’t trust yourself?

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You, Trees, and Change

I cannot help but become reflective around this time of year; there is something about the month of April that brings about change. The change of season, perhaps, gives students on campus hope of a warmer walk to class. The impending period of finals mixes with the carefree mid-semester atmosphere. I realize though, that the reason the month of April feels momentous, is because it is both the end and the beginning of something big.

Admitted students day was held this past weekend, a drab and gloomy day that was still somehow brightened by the faces of eager parents and prospective students. As I walked students around the Engineering wing, I remembered taking these exact steps one year ago….seeing these exact rooms and exploring this very equipment. So this is what it feels like to be on the other side, I thought. Among many seemingly amazing students that day, one in particular caught my eye. This girl was me. She was eager and restless, with wide eyes as we walked through the engineering quad. She knew what she wanted, but didn’t necessarily know how she would get it. She asked the same questions I’d asked, she balked at the same things I’d once balked at, and she was sure that this was the place for her.

Meeting this girl was a reminder of the change that is occurring, and the cycle that will continue. There is nothing that compares to the spirit of students sharing their love and experiences with others. The change that is happening as you read this, an amazing class graduating while an amazing class enters, is one that is necessary for this spirit and joy to continue. No matter where you are in your college life, whether you are an alumnus, a senior, a first-year, or a prospective student, you are important to the change. You have and will forever alter the history of this university. So remember that when you feel that your college days are long over or that this class you’re taking is the bane of your existence. Remember that change isn’t just the trees blooming on Busch, change is you.

Rutgers University is #FTK

This past weekend, I had the pleasure of taking part in Rutgers University Dance Marathon, or RUDM, which is a massive fundraiser for the Embrace Kids Foundation.  Student groups for teams, and choose do dance one of two 12-hour shifts.  These shifts, the Scarlet Session and the Silver session, last from 6PM Friday to 6AM Saturday, and then From 9AM to 9PM, respectively.  This was my first year doing RUDM, and the experience was truly life changing.

 

Organizations who participate in RUDM often sponsor a child in the Embrace Kids Foundation.  They offer partnership and support to the children and their families throughout the year, and invite them to celebrate and dance during the marathon.  The bonds between Rutgers students and these children are truly remarkable, and the atmosphere was overwhelmed with joy.  

 

Fundraising for RUDM is a year-round effort.  Dancers dedicate themselves the whole year.  The entire marathon is student-run, meaning that there are hundreds of Rutgers students who work behind the scenes to make RUDM a reality.  With help from local sponsors and cooperation with the Rutgers University administration, these students work tirelessly during both sessions to see RUDM come to fruition.

 

Perhaps the most rewarding moments of the entire marathon occurred during the final hours of the Silver Session.  During this time, there was a dance party for the children and the dancers, and the final total was revealed.  This year, over $900,000 was raised!  Everyone’s hard work and dedication paid off.
If you would like to be involved in RUDM either as a dancer or a volunteer, look for information when you come to campus this fall! I promise you that Rutgers University Dance MArathon is an experience you will never forget, and you will forever be FTK (For The Kids)! 

(Picture above taken by yours truly)

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