So how was New Zealand?

Studying in New Zealand was a beautiful and challenging experience. The amazing landscapes were unlike anything I’d ever seen. I attended a smaller university, and met people from all over the world. The most valuable part of my experience was being able to engage with so many people from different cultures. We had potlucks and barbecues, and went stargazing and camping together. It changed my entire perspective of the world.

I took two ecology courses while I was there, which included field trips to explore the biodiversity of New Zealand. I even learned how to identify birds by their calls. Now that I’m back home, I realized that I know more species of plants and animals in New Zealand than I do here!

 

Where do you see yourself in five years?

In five years, I see myself in graduate school pursuing my PhD, working toward a career in research. Without the Lincoln University exchange program, I wouldn’t have gone to New Zealand and found my passion. It was there that I really decided to pursue research. Now that I'm back at OSU, I’ll begin an internship at the Sinnhuber Aquatic Research Laboratory, through the Department of Environmental and Molecular Toxicology.

Let your gauge of success be based on your own happiness and desires, not the success of others.

What challenges have you faced in continuing your education?

The biggest struggle that I’ve dealt with in my education was comparing myself to others. My freshman year in the Honors College, I saw my peers take on research positions, jobs, and extracurricular activities, while I still wasn’t sure what I wanted to do. It took a toll on my self-confidence. I told myself that research was too stressful and that I couldn’t handle the pressure of graduate school.

Overcoming this mindset was not easy. I gained a lot of confidence by opening up to people who support me. My advisor has always been there for me, and I still lean on her guidance today. I also learned how to let go of my fear of failure. I decided to stop being scared and go after what I want. Once I started being proactive instead of limiting myself, my questions went from “Can I do this?” to “Why not?"

 

Any advice for incoming freshman?

Allow the accomplishments of others to motivate and inspire you, without feeling like you’re falling behind. Let your gauge of success be based on your own happiness and desires, not the success of others. Focus on figuring out your goals for yourself, and how you’re going to reach them, rather than trying to catch up to those around you. Everyone achieves success in their own way, in their own time.

Take advantage of the knowledgeable people on campus who are there to support you. Whether it be your advisor, an academic coach through the Academic Success Center, or a trusted faulty member, these people know how hard it is to be a student and can be instrumental in helping you navigate through college. Leaning on someone with experience will make the whole process less overwhelming for you, while also letting you build deeper connections that can be valuable for your future.