May 26, 2013

  • I Don’t Want To Be Anything Other Than Me.

    Song – I Don’t Want To Be by Gavin DeGraw

    It is hard to believe that I am starting senior year at JMU in August. The past three years involved growing up, failures, accomplishments, and friendships that blossomed and faded. I can only imagine what senior year will bring, but I want it to be the most memorable because it is the last. To start, I will embark on this Orientation experience that begins in just a few weeks. For all that I know, thirty OPAs (Orientation Peer Advisers) will come together to welcome 4,300+ incoming freshmen to the Madison experience. In my first few weeks as a freshman, I wanted to pack my bags and go home. Here I am three years later passionately in love with the university that molded me into better person all around. I am proud of myself and what I have accomplished at JMU thus far. 

    I don’t mean to look at this way, but my freshman year was the weakest. I had a rough transition from home to college. I missed home more than ever, and didn’t appreciate what I had until it was gone. I wasn’t confident in Kinesiology, the major I declared. I finished my first semester with a 3.48, missing the Dean’s List by .02. I was always studious growing up, and not making the list was frustrating. Going into second semester, I had a terrible professor for a math course. I couldn’t believe I got a C, and I ended with a 3.2 for the semester. This class was so difficult that my roommate and I formed a study group with more than half of the class. It amazed me to see that we all came together to try and succeed in this class. I will never forget these people because they made this class bearable.

    Kinesiology was out of my life, and Communication Sciences and Disorders was my new major. I took CSD 200 in the spring and fell in love with the field. Ever since this semester, I have decided I want to become an Audiologist.

    My first failure at JMU was not being selected to be a 2011 FrOG (First yeaR Orientation Guide) for the incoming 2011 class. My second failure was not being selected to be a Peer Adviser for the Office of Disability Services. I wanted this job that would have started my sophomore year, but it was not meant to be. I left for the summer and this was my first time having a 4-month summer break. WOW, I never missed JMU so much. I missed my friends and the busy schedule. But soon enough, August rolled around and it was time to go back.

    I moved into Logan Hall with one of my friends from freshman year. This dorm should be the Honors dorm considering the size of the rooms. I met a lot of great people this year that I still talk to now. Now that I was a CSD major, I knew I had to do better academically due to the competitiveness of graduate school. I got a 3.82 in the fall semester and I was thrilled. Socially, I applied for my first organization, Student Ambassadors. It was a long application process that started in September, and ended in January. During this time, the Office of Disability Services called me asking if I wanted that Peer Adviser position starting in January. One of my first failures turned into a success. However, I only wanted to do one thing because academics was my #1 priority. My heart was on Student Ambassadors (even though I hadn’t known if I got it yet) because that is what I wanted at the time. I had to reject the Office of Disability Services’ request because I wanted something else. They turned me down initially, and I felt it was fair for me to say no.

    Second semester of sophomore year rolled around and I was petrified of the CSD classes required at the time. On the other hand, I was admitted to Student Ambassadors. My college life changed. I made so many friends and had to challenge myself socially and academically. Having fun in college is necessary. I grew up a lot this semester in regards to trusting myself with decisions. There were times when I chose SA events over studying, but it was worth it. I ended the semester with a 3.86 and I was ecstatic. I knew I could be involved and still do well in classes.

    Sophomore year topped freshman year by far. I became a tour guide who advocated the university to prospective students and their families. I gained self-trust and became more socially confident. Having to sell your university to a group of strangers for over an hour around campus isn’t as terrifying at it seems. This is actually a good skill to acquire for the real world. 

    What I also learned my sophomore year in CSD was the competitiveness of getting into graduate programs. In this major, you can become a Speech-Language Pathologist (SLP) or an Audiologist (Au.D.). However, both jobs require graduate school. I knew this when I declared the major, but I didn’t realize how extreme the competitiveness was until I got further into it. This is exactly why I am so hard on myself when it comes to doing well in classes. But overall, I definitely found my balance of classes and the social life. 

    Junior year began, and I now had a townhouse off campus. I absolutely love it, and will be living in the same place senior year. It was mildly difficult adjusting from living in a dorm to being way more independent off campus. However, it is so nice not having an RA. My roommates are great, and our place is clean. You can’t go wrong with that.

    Student Ambassadors changed for me personally in the fall of junior year. The seniors were gone from the past semester, and the magic felt missing. I had the time of my life in this organization before, and now it just seemed different. I felt disconnected and this lead me to distancing myself from it. I was told before that this happens to a lot of people, but I was literally on cloud 9 my first semester in it. 

    Classes were good, and I was taking an Intro to Audiology course. I loved it, and this was one more piece of evidence that I knew I was in the right major. I was also taking the hardest course in the major. CSD 300. It is hilarious looking back now seeing how stressed out my friends and I were. I ended up doing well, and finished the fall semester with a 3.86. 

    Not many people know this, but I also applied to the Doctor of Audiology graduate program at JMU. This program admits roughly 6 students per year. NOT A LOT. I had an opportunity to apply as an early admit which is for juniors only. After speaking with the director of the program, it was obvious that my chances were slim. Although it sounds honorable for a junior to apply early, there are higher standards for an applicant that is a junior than a senior. My GPA, extracurriculars, relationship with CSD faculty, personal story with hearing loss, and overall resume was solid. Unfortunately, my GRE scores weren’t good. In the end, I wasn’t accepted because of the scores alone. What I took from this experience was timing. I wasn’t ready to start grad school a year early. I scrambled to prepare for the GREs over winter break and it didn’t work out. This summer I will spend more time studying so that I can perform efficiently and receive a better score. I’ll never forget the director of the program telling me, “Raise your GRE score and you’re fine. Everything else is good.” My application is held on file for next year, and I will keep working hard to hopefully gain acceptance for 2014. 

    Second semester of junior year rolled around, and I found out I was accepted into The Madison Society. This lifted my spirits because it is a relatively small organization. Due to the overload of commitments this semester, I couldn’t devote a lot of time to TMS. I plan to dive into the group this fall.

    I applied to be an OPA for the 2013 term. It was sort of a last minute decision. There is handful of Student Ambassadors who have done this in prior years, and that is part of the reason I became interested. The group interview was so intimidating that I thought I was the worst applicant in the room. Luckily, I pulled through and landed an individual interview. In a Student Ambassador meeting, I got a phone call from the office notifying my acceptance. I was shocked. I am giving back to the university that has changed my life.

    OPA had several commitments throughout the semester. A lot of interviews to select 300 FrOGS. We had to take a Friday class that went from 2:30-5pm. This pushed my limits on balance. I raked in 62 hours of community service successfully passing my goal of 60. I was a teaching assistant for one of my CSD professors. And on top of that, I had to make points for Student Ambassadors. 

    But somehow, I managed to earn another 3.86 for the semester. It is funny though. Four semesters in a row, I missed making the President’s List by .04. But again, I am beyond grateful. All of the hard work has paid off. Within these four semesters, I got busier and busier with involvements and still did well academically. I have one more semester to go until I officially apply to graduate programs for audiology. Time sure as hell flies. 

    This entire reflection doesn’t even sum it all up. But here I am, amazed by the pace of time. Why does college have to go so fast? I love everything about it. It makes you gain independence, self-trust, and better yourself as a person. I don’t want it to end. 

    In just a few weeks, I will be heading back to JMU to embark on this OPA experience. I want to change lives. I want to inspire the incoming class. They have to see JMU the way we do. There’s many reasons why JMU is so loved. 97% say they loved their JMU experience. I am going into this OPA experience with no expectations. I am going to just let it happen and see what comes out of it. 

    My senior year is about to begin and I have a whole new list of goals. Academically, I want to make the President’s List, and I want to graduate Magna Cum Laude. I am currently holding the honor, but I must maintain it. I am hopeful of gaining acceptance into the audiology program so I can further my education at JMU. Socially, I want to make myself a better member of Student Ambassadors and The Madison Society.

    I am going to make a bucket list at some point with some friends. I want more spontaneity this year. I want to go downtown more often and enjoy my time with friends. I’ve gained and lost some friendships, but I know who’s real and who I want to be around. 

    Senior year is going to be one hell of a year and one that I will never forget.