Ode to Undergrad – What College Taught Me

Hi Friends,

To say that it has been ages since we’ve last interacted is an understatement. Over the past couple months, I’ve realized the amount of painstaking effort it takes to strike a school-work-life balance. Prioritizing school work has been crucial to my success in college, but has also deprived me of time I get to spend on pursuing my passions, such as blogging and cooking.

Just to give y’all an update, last weekend, May 13th, 2017 I graduated magna cum laude from SDSU with a Bachelor’s of Science degree in Kinesiology with an emphasis in Pre-Physical Therapy. WHOA! Isn’t that a mouthful? But… totally worth it. From the all-nighters cramming for midterms, the early morning traffic-filled commutes, the hunger games in the parking structures, to the unforgettable memories. Every day of these past four years has been an opportunity for personal growth and development.

Since I’ve been reflecting on my college experience this past week as a “post-grad/free-bird/pseudo-adult,” I had the idea to draft up this blog to share a few things I’ve learned while attending university.

Who? What? When? Where? & Why? okay Ashna,where are you going with this? Contrary to the old saying: “curiosity killed the cat,” the first lesson I learned in college was to BE INQUISITIVE. Question everything. Your mind is not only a sponge that absorbs information, but is a tool that allows you to synthesize that knowledge into new forms. Challenge theories. How useful is it to own technology, but have no clue about how it works? Don’t take things at face value. There is no such thing as a stupid question. I’ve seen time and time again where my peers are lost during lecture but don’t have the courage to raise their hand amongst 200 other students. But, thanks to that one inquisitive student in the class, other students find clarity on a concept they were confused about. Crush the fear of questioning the norm, it is not only beneficial, but crucial.  In the words of my sociology 101 professor “be a knowledge producer, not a knowledge consumer.” 

On a similar note of breaking barriers, the second lesson I learned was the POWER of INTERDEPENDENCE. Wait, what does that mean? *quickly opens new tab to dictionary.com* Getting a college education is not easy, to say the least. It’s crazy to think that you’ll survive on your own, because the truth of the matter is, you have to learn how to rely on others. Teams exist not only in the workplace, but in any field where human connection is necessary. During my first two years, we had to complete a laundry list of general education classes that consisted of chemistry, biology and physics. And I’m the type of student that is self-reliant most of the time. I learn how to do things on my own and try to avoid seeking out study groups. Boy did that habit break in time.

Learning to lean on my classmates and forming study groups in these core classes were a major contributor to my success. Whenever I didn’t understand a concept, I had someone  I could turn to, whether it was my peer or my professor. Interdependence is a vulnerable  action but a necessary action for growth. If you’re reading this right now and you’re attending university, don’t be afraid to seek out help. You have to adopt the mindset that you don’t have all the answers to all the questions thrown at you, and that’s totally okay. Although your professors can have an intimidating aura, they were once in your shoes too. Attend office hours and expand your network. Who knows, they may even help you get field experience or right you a letter of recommendation down the road. Word of mouth can trump your GPA in some cases. Cast a wide net, because networking and building those interdependent connections will take you places you want to go.

4 years flies by so fast, its hard to accept that my undergraduate career is over. College became a second home for me. A sanctuary that was stressful but equally as peaceful amongst the chaos in the foreground.

The third and final lesson that college taught me was to STAY HUMBLE & GIVE BACK. Attending university is like moving into a new community. There are new faces, new surroundings, unfamiliarity mixed in with excitement. Throughout my journey, I’ve hit many all time lows. Even though I was struggling in the dark valleys, the light was always at the end of the tunnel. The best advice I can give is that humility and gratitude will take you a long way. Be humble when rejoicing your successes but appreciate the lessons you learn in your failures. Every experience you go through can be shared with someone in need. This concept of “serving others, and giving back to your community,” resonates with me a lot. Throughout college I pursued undergraduate teaching assistant positions which allowed me to work with students of all backgrounds. This past semester, I was able to share advice to students in my lab about how to navigate the major, what classes to pair together and encourage them to apply for a UTA position. It’s such a rewarding experience to be able to have a positive impact on others. Build bridges not barriers. Connect with like-minded people. Make a difference. 🙂

Quoting Winston Churchill:

“We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.”

Thank you so much for joining me on this blog post. I hope to talk to you all again soon on the next one.