After 9 months, two semesters, and countless long nights, I’m officially done with my 1st year at the University of Maryland: College Park. It’s been an adventure to say the least, but I’m excited to say I’ve made it to the other side.
Nailing Down a Major:
While it took many more attempts than I’d care to admit, I’m glad to end the semester knowing that I finally found the right path for me. Having entered a Finance major, yet with a love for Education, it was hard to find the appropriate course of study for myself. Was I to focus on developing my hard business skills? Or improving on many of my soft skills and policy knowledge? After enrolling in a double major in Government & Politics, a minor in Secondary Education, and pondering pursuing my Masters of Public Policy, I realized I needed to take a step back. As a young entrepreneur, it was vital for me to lock-down all of the hard business skills that are often difficult to teach oneself, and to simply pursue opportunities to engage with education or practice many of the soft skills I would’ve learned. While my interest was there, I also realized I’d be better suited pursuing an M.Ed. or a Ed.D, as it’d allow me to better focus on the areas of interest I have, and look closer at administrative structures rather than facilitation. With the aspiration of filing my “articles of organization” this summer, and officially run my own business, it’s important for me to not only ensure that I’m keeping my venture financially viable, but that I understand the market I’m in and who the customer truly is. At the same time, I want to make sure I’m taking courses that encourage my entrepreneurial spirit, and allow me to better understand some of the unique struggles and perspectives they face.
With a major in Finance, a minor in Innovation & Entrepreneurship, and with the intent to complete the “4+1 Program” for an M.S. in Marketing Analytics, I feel ready to face the next 4-years of studies, and the world beyond.
Getting Plugged in On-Campus:
One of the hardest things year was simply getting myself involved on campus, with two unpaid internships, my own company, and numerous volunteer projects back home, it was hard to take on more responsibilities and feel comfortable connecting with groups on-campus. With that said, I was able to find a few opportunities that were able to provide me a supportive group of peers, a variety of academic experiences, and a wealth of warm memories.
- The first of these was the Residence Hall Association (RHA): despite applying on a whim, I was able to better understand the need to take a role seriously, and the importance of even the little things in making a project successful. At the same time, it was a nice excuse to spend time with some old friends, and to connect with new ones. Being awarded the RHA Member of the Year, was an incredibly touching moment, and I was beyond grateful for the honor.
- Secondly was the Smith Undergraduate Student Association (SUSA): As a track leader for the “Smith in the City” program, I was able to connect with a variety of local employers, and was challenged to be open and flexible with adversity. This role allowed me to see the value in planning ahead, and the need to always have a back-up plan, no matter how secure plans may seem. After serving as the Sports Management Trek Leader for the Spring program to DC, I’m beyond excited to continue my work with them as the Entrepreneurship Trek Leader to NYC this fall.
- Finally, was the College Park Scholars programs: Both the Public Leadership Council, and the Scholars Ambassadors Program. As a scholars ambassador, I was given the opportunity to connect with new scholars, share my love for the program that’s given me so many warm memories, and help give prospective students a helping hand along their college search. At the same time, the Public Leadership Council was a great way to provide feedback on the program, and think critically as to how to better connect the different classes in the program.
Getting Used to Fraternity Life:
With all that said, one of the most influential decisions I made this semester was to join Greek Life at the University of Maryland, and more specifically, the Delta Upsilon chapter on campus. While originally very hesitant about the decision, I’ve never regretted it for even a second. Despite being only five semesters old, the men in my fraternity have shown a level of professionalism, genuine interest, and a passion for service that’s unheard of in most any of the other groups on campus. My brothers have pushed me to be the best I can be, and they’ve instilled in my countless values, of respect, friendship, character, and many more. In a time where terrible stories and events are coming out of the woodwork in Greek organizations across the United States, I’m grateful to have these men who truly care about me and support me to serve as an example that Greek Life can be so much more than just parties and drinking.
As a member of the Alpha Class, I’m blessed to have met many of the founding fathers before they graduated, and to truly understand why this chapter was founded and it’s core values. I’ve been challenged to take initiative and take on responsibility, even serving as the SpringFest chair, and in a number of committee positions for the upcoming school year. I’m beyond grateful for each and every brother I have, and cannot wait for the countless memories I know we’ll have in the coming years, “Dikaia Upotheke.”
Transitioning to Off-Campus Housing
Despite loving the countless friends I’ve been able to make this year in the dorms, the many late nights: studying, watching movies, playing FortNite, or just hanging out – I’m excited to move off campus for this coming year. I’m looking forward to not being forced to stay awake by the five people out in the lounge, a sense of privacy in my bedroom, and the ability to play music without headphones in. Most importantly though I’m looking forward to being able live more on my own: to cook my own food, wake myself up, and have a quiet place to get work done in the evenings. While I’ll miss all the friends I’ve made, I know I’ll see them around campus and have them over to the apartment, and I’m excited to spend time with my new roommates. It’ll definitely be a transition, but I’m excited for the shortened walk, new challenges, and opportunities that’ll come with living off campus next year.
Looking Ahead to Next Semester
This upcoming semester isn’t setting itself up to be an easy one, and it’ll keep my pretty busy, but this summer will give me the opportunity to not only get ahead on my work, but establish effective habits and plans for success in the fall. I’ll be taking a full schedule, with 17 credits in total, and while I only have class scheduled Monday & Wednesday, I have a myriad of blended courses as well as some solely online. My work with Sonder Innovations will keep me busy as we look to develop our initial pilot platform, but I’ll need to ensure I’m keeping a balance between my school work and extra-curricular activities, and that I’m not letting myself get behind on either of them. While living off campus will challenge me prepare my own food, I’ll need to stay on top of my diet and exercise in order to stay healthy, as well as ensuring I’m keeping up with a healthy sleeping schedule. With some luck, I’ll be able to spend one or two of my free days during the week working as a substitute in the local area, or even interning down in DC, but in the meantime I’ll need to start preparing to get up for my 8am classes and studying for Accounting II.
At the End of it all…
At the end of it all, I’m incredibly grateful for not only the people that this year has brought into my life, but the countless opportunities I’ve been able to take advantage of.
- To my friends, thank you for your endless support, laughs, memories, and unbreakable bond, I know I don’t say thank you enough, but I cannot tell you how much it’s meant to me.
- To my professors, thank you for helping me find where my interests truly lie, and challenging me to build upon myself.
- To god, while you’ve never let me have an easy day this year, and have caught me off guard more times than I can count, I know you’ve got a plan, and I’m looking forward to seeing wherever it takes me.
If you asked me a year ago how my life would be looking right now, I could’ve never imagined all of this. Whether that’s good or bad, I truly don’t know – while this year has been far from easy, I’ve been able to grow an incredible amount, and I know that it’s only going to continue and lead upwards in the coming year. I’m excited to move on and get a fresh start this summer, and dive back into it all again this fall, for whatever’s coming my way, I’ll be sure to keep my head up and take it day by day.