Battle to Bloom
Welcome to the END of my first year at UW! I blinked, and it's already over!?
How to be a COOL Peer Educator
Honors 397: Peer Educator Seminar and my FAVORITE assignment ever.
Just before the spring quarter began, I got an email from my former peer educator, Emily, encouraging me to apply to be an Honors Peer Educator... Two days later, I got another email, this time from my Honors 220 professor, Dr. O, to do the same. After a few days of going back and forth between my alternative schedules for the spring, I decided to give it a shot!
Fast forward to the end of Spring quarter, and I've created some of my most fulfilling pieces of work EVER in this little seminar in preparation for teaching my own Honors 100 section in the fall.
From making my Icebreaker activity slides and survivor-themed souvenirs alongside Milena, Emily, and Ava, to putting my design skills to the test with our resource brochure creation assignment, this class gave me all the tools to be a successful PE in the fall, and also a lot more information on resources and systems I never had a chance to interact with before.
Self-Sabotage through STEM
How a last-minute screw-up cost me some happiness and some sanity in spring quarter.
I've never pulled more all-nighters, early-risers, and grind sessions in my entire time here at UW until this quarter.
See, registration did NOT work in my favor in the last two quarters, leaving me with a couple of options for spring quarter: Take 2 required stem weed-outs and a fun class about oceans and Honors 397, OR take 3 of those stem weed-outs and honors 397.
For reference, I changed my registration FIVE times prior to the start of the quarter, and ended up picking the nasty concoction of weed-outs to pile into my schedule. I went from having a 4.0 in my ochem class in winter to scoring solid 70s on my biochem exams, and 60s on my calculus exams. I've learned from this lovely pattern that I need to recognize my capacity a bit more diligently before committing myself to quarter loads of this scale. This quarter allowed me to sus out what tactics ACTUALLY work and don't work in the context of studying for STEM. I've learned to stay in tuned to my needs per subject. Studying bio? Samantha prefers studying alone. What about chem? Group study and as much active recall and teaching as possible. For Calculus? Practice, practice, and more practice, PLUS test yourself against the most obnoxious word problems (you'll thank me later).
Reaching for the Stars @ the MRO
From Favorite Honors Professor to new boss, how I kept myself busy this quarter with a gig at UW Astronomy thanks to Dr. O!
Remember Dr. O from my autumn quarter at UW! Guess what!? He's my boss now! While I may be a biology/marine biology student, I guess I'm now the UW astronomy's designer now!
This was one of the biggest highlights of this quarter, and it all started with a little assignment from his class in the fall. For his museum item assignment, all students were required to bring in an object, and write a little description/notecard that would act as a museum "placard" giving us essential information and context to whatever the item was. Some people brought fallen shower heads from McMahon. Some brought their grandparents' antique silverware. I brought the very first stickers I designed and printed, and gave some away during our gallery walk. After Dr. O discovered my side-passion of design, he later contacted me if I was interested in designing for the Manastash Ridge Observatory's 50th anniversary events. After this quarter-long design project, I was invited to the observatory for the event and had a wild time exploring this COMPLETELY new realm of study with some really cool undergrads and friends of the program. All new people. All new things I know NOTHING about. It was incredible.
I'm so grateful for the practical experience I gained working with the department this quarter, and I was ecstatic to get an invitation to work with UW Astronomy over the summer and into the following academic years. This was certainly a fun learning experience, and I'm so glad my little assignment in fall quarter led to this amazing opportunity. Plus, the MRO visit gave me an escape from Week 9 chaos... I certainly needed it.
Looking back on Spring 2022
Oh. My. Gosh.
What was that!? I swore I started my first year at UW like three weeks ago, and now I'm writing this on the Thursday night of Dead Week of my last quarter of freshman year. Needless to say this entire YEAR flew by at a speed which I simply cannot comprehend, but more importantly, this quarter in particular had so much to teach me in such a short amount of time. I'll admit that I screwed up the most this quarter. But I still think it's incredibly important for me to acknowledge the huge wins of the quarter as well.
To begin, let's look back at where Samantha was at the beginning of the quarter.
It's easy to say that the class I was looking forward to the most was my HONORS 397 Peer Educator Seminar. It was the only class that gave me a breath of fresh air from my fully STEM-ed up schedule, and the class that allowed me track my growth in terms of leadership and community building skills over the quarter VERY precisely. I had experiences as a leader leading up to this point in college, but there was (and still is) a part of me that is incredibly intimidated by the idea of teaching people around my age in a college classroom setting, knowing that I was not all too experienced as a college student to begin with.
This class started off with an amazing retreat where I got to explore my own leadership skills and identify and establish goals for myself to tackle over the course of the retreat and also the quarter. I discovered that I felt most successful as a leader if I had a strong idea and basis of my support systems via my other peers/other PEs and my instructors. I made it a goal of mine to really put myself out there and get to know the group that I would be working so closely with for the next few quarters. From the events of the retreat alone, I can certainly say I achieved that goal and feel so much more supported and secure as a leader now that I've established my environment and familiarized myself with expectations of my role in context to the other amazing future PEs around me.
Over the course of the quarter itself, I always had my Honors 397 class to run to after being stuffed to the brim with my bio, biochem, and calculus studies, and seeing this class as my opportunity to grow in a different manner and escape all the numbers and memorization was such a relief for me personally. In the past, I always had anxieties attached to leadership development opportunities, but this minor shift in mindset allowed me to approach leadership experience in a new and more confident manner. We discussed so much about the problems and issues incoming freshmen and current UW students face, and I not only learned how to support my future students, but also how to support myself in my run-ins with these situations in my own life.
Pinpointing "learning moments" for myself as a student was the most engaging part of this quarter and for my training as a future Peer Educator. Ultimately I learned how to trust myself and my experience to guide me through my role as a future PE, and having the support of my instructors and fellow PEs helped me a lot in terms of battling this internal barrier and anxiety towards addressing people in the college-age groups.
What's one HUGE lesson I learned this year, in particular, this quarter? Definitely do not take ALL weed-outs at once to fill up your full-time schedule. How about another lesson? Please, talk to people in your lectures! You are going to find the BEST hidden gems in these classes if you're willing to be upfront and genuine about your intentions and interests. You'll be happier, more fulfilled, and confident in your community on campus if you do so. What's one more lesson I've learned from my personal experiences? Academic and Personal Life are absolutely NEVER EVER mutually exclusive realms of your personal experience in college. For some reason, I had a super ability to compartmentalize these worlds in high school, but experiencing how much of a culture shift and independence shock college can be certainly changed that outlook for me. I've some of my worst personal life events during my time here at UW, and I only recently felt and processed the effects they've had on my academics here. Everything is a "do-it-yourself" from this point on, and learning to understand when, where, and how these realms impact you and your emotions is something people have to recognize real quick once getting to campus.
I started the quarter suffering my first ever scam, which was arguably pretty horrible, knocking me down a few thousand which I've worked for over the last few years. I ended the quarter with losing a family member. and in between I've gone to the Emergency Room two times. Don't forget all the other miscellaneous heartbreaks, sleepless nights, and breakdowns in between. Trying to view these objectively unfortunate events as learning opportunities has been better for my mental health than what I used to do in high school, and I'm glad I've found my outlets and opportunities beyond your classical stem academics to focus on when everything else seems to be crushing me down.
I wanted to draw a rollercoaster track representative of this quarter, but I fear it'll make me quite dizzy and confused all over again. TLDR: this quarter was a doozy, and while I had my very low lows, I cannot ignore that I've made some of the best memories of my life this quarter, and had countless opportunities to grow myself as a student, leader, and friend this quarter. As the school year wraps up, I can only hope that this will pan out for the better, and that I'll have the tools and resources necessary in case things go astray.
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