I am a proud first generation Asian American of parents who immigrated from the Philippines. I come from a very close-knit family with about 50 cousins just in the Salem/Keizer area alone. Throughout my entire life, my parents have always taught me there is nothing more valuable than a college education. I knew I always wanted to pursue higher education, and while I haven't been able to pinpoint exactly what I want to do, I just know I want to help people.
I have been playing alto saxophone since the 6th grade and one of my best decisions was joining the OSU Marching Band. Marching Band helped ease my transition to college my first year and allowed me to meet a diverse group of people I would have never met otherwise. I had never marched until starting college, but I learned very quickly. There is nothing like the energy of performing a halftime show that we had practiced for weeks to create.
I was not entirely set on my major when I first got accepted into OSU. I originally thought about microbiology until my friend told me about BioResource Research (BRR). I told her I was interested in research and she told me that this would be the perfect major for me. The best thing about BRR is the ability to tailor my degree to my interests. I believe when I graduate with my degree, I will have skills to move forward wherever the future takes me.
The STEM Leaders Program has had the biggest impact on my education at OSU. Through STEM Leaders, I had the opportunity to work in a research lab my first year, which is something not everyone has the opportunity to do. I also became a peer mentor because I really wanted to help other students with their transition to OSU and show them how valuable research experience is. This program has shown me that I want to pursue a career in research, and I also want to help people.
Additionally, being part of the OSU-SACNAS Chapter has provided me the opportunity to connect with other minority students in STEM who all have the same goals: to promote diversity and increase retention in higher education. My involvement in SACNAS has helped me step out of my comfort zone by becoming an officer, make professional connections through the national conference, and helped bring students and their families together during Mi Familia Weekend.
To be honest I am not exactly sure where I see myself in five years. I feel that the future is very uncertain right now, so who knows where I will be. Ideally, after completing my bachelors I want to take a gap year before starting graduate school. I want to either volunteer or do a long-term research internship. I want to experience the world outside of academia before jumping back in.
My biggest challenge was my lack of certainty. My freshman year I had very strict expectations that after my undergraduate degree I was going to go straight into pharmacy school. I learned not long after the end of my first year that I no longer wanted to pursue that career. I felt lost thinking I should have some sort of idea what I wanted to do as a career, and it seemed like everyone else had it together but me. But I quickly learned to be comfortable with being unsure. Even though I do not have a set idea of what I wanted to do after undergrad, I know that in time I will find what I am truly passionate about.
My advice to incoming students is to be open to change and new opportunities. I think everyone goes into college with certain expectations on how college is going to be and what your life is going to be like after you graduate. I was definitely one of those people. The most important thing to remember is to be open to change. It is okay to be unsure and not have all the answers. College is one of the most influential moments in a person’s life, and that is when you can explore and find those answers.
Another important thing is to find your support group. Whether that is your friends, your advisor, or a club that you’re in. Find people that support you and that want to see you succeed as much as you do.