Reflecting and Ramping Up for the Semester

These past two weeks I have taken a break from working on my thesis to act as an Orientation Counselor for CMU’s Orientation Program. Speaking with first-years about my experiences and ushering in the next class of Tartans has caused me to pause and really reflect on what it means to be a CMU student, a senior, and someone conducting a year-long research project.

I spoke at Dietrich College’s convocation and chose to focus my speech on the concept of openness. CMU is a land of opportunities and the main piece of advice I had for the sea of first-years was to let themselves be open to new opportunities and experiences available here. A misconception held by many students entering college, one that I originally held, is that college is just about taking the required classes for your major and getting out with your degree. But the truth is that CMU is the place to examine your interests and explore what you’re truly passionate about.

Senior year is speeding towards me fast. It’s thrilling and terrifying to be nearly finished with my time as a student, since that’s all I have ever really done. I have only ever been in school for the majority of every year since kindergarten. I like to think that I’ve learned a few things along the way but I always thought I’d feel secure and confident in my position as advice-giver or college senior. I’m still unsure of my path after graduation but I can focus on making the best of my last year and the work I’ll be doing.

With the start of the semester comes classes and and the re-ignition of my thesis project. This break has been a useful palate cleanser as I have to now prepare to work on my thesis in completely new conditions. During the summer, I was able to focus solely on my project for hours on end in the same location. Now I need to adapt and figure out how to weave my project into my schedule of classes and extracurricular activities. Having a daily routine really helps me to focus; when things are often up in the air it’s more difficult for me to plan out how to get things done. Gone are the days of sitting at the same desk from 9 to 5; welcome to balancing act. I know that I’ll have to give myself time to adjust to a new method of working on my thesis, but I’m worried I’ll feel out of sorts or that I’m trying to do too much at once. I need to find time to breathe, and then actually do it.

This is the last of my summer blog posts for the Research Fellowship Blog, and I’m sad to see them go. I enjoyed reading up on what the other fellows were doing but now that the semester’s starting up, I’m excited to see them in person and to throw my heart back into the work.