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Winter 2023

2023 and Me... It's complicated

The quarter where we reached the highest highs, and the lowest lows, but pushed through till its end

Toeing the line, closing the gap, and living up to (realistic) expectations
Finishing the introductory biology series and managing realistic academic and social standards

This quarter started off SO well with promises of a new year with unwritten expectations. Knowing the general trend of how winter quarters usually are (sucky, depressing, and awkward), I accepted that this quarter was when I'd define my long-term goals and be nice to myself with where my academic journey would take me. I finished the introductory biology series this quarter, but I will admit, BIOL 220 did kick my butt, and made me reconsider how my journey in academia was going so far.

One of the most important things I've learned (or rather, reinforced in my mind) this quarter is to accept when putting your best foot forward doesn't always pan out. I got my absolute lowest test exam score ever with my 2nd exam in BIOL 220, and I did less than ideal or even average on the rest. Of course, we are blessed with a drop of our lowest exam, but trying to console myself about my overall decline into the series was an interesting journey to say the least. I found myself preparing to the best of my abilities for each of the exams, only to feel more disappointed as I took each one. What I realize now after the conclusion of the series is that I need to understand how vast biology is. There are students in m cohort who are aiming for pre-med, for plant biology, cellular biology, and a plethora of other fields. I performed best in BIOL 180 when we focused heavily on ecology, evolution, and conservation, which makes sense as I enjoyed those topics the most. 

It is infinitely difficult to resist comparing yourself to others in your field here at UW, no matter how large and varied it may be. What I found most reassuring during this time was that I was able to identify what made me tick, what genuinely excites me, and what keeps me passionate as a learner. Acknowledging that I am so much more than a bio students is another thing too, and this quarter, I felt like my timely closure with the bio series fell perfectly in line with my adventures into other sectors of my studies and experiments in other passions.

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FUNKY Business in HONORS 231 / ENTRE 372
My first business class was an... experience...

Taking HONORS 231 for my social sciences credit as an honors student was QUITE the wild ride. Learning all of the business terms and doing a million different projects around the clock was WAY more time-consuming and mentally exhausting than I could have ever imagined. Honestly, I was overwhelmed with everything going on with the course, and frankly, it made me stress out the most this quarter!

Learning how to navigate such a foreign subject involved a lot of trial and error. I worked on "time-blocking" my responsibilities now more than ever, and made way more actual products than I thought time could ever allow! There are tons of pros to experiencing many of the cons associated with the course, but I've walked away from this course with many more skills in talking the grand challenges that face this world, and how to throw an awesome pitch to big-time funders ;)

Check out my final term project prototype here!

Attending a wildlife camerawomen workshop/meetup weekend RIGHT before finals

Nothing is better than a weekend getaway with no wifi, no studying, but FULL of badass camerawomen the weekend before finals! I was invited to spend the end of "dead week" in Hoodsport, WA with wildlife camerawomen from the BBC, NatGeo, Disney+ and many more incredible projects. A cinematographer I met back in highschool kept tabs on me and my projects over the last 4 years, and I was so thankful for her invitation to the weekend and to the community. We spent the weekend working on the RED cinema cameras, drone piloting, sequence building, and talking EVERYTHING cinematography.

One of the best parts about this weekend is the community of amazing gals I met on the retreat. So many of them were already well established in the field with heaps of credits and experience under their belts. Learning from these women was incredibly valuable, and I even got to refine my skills in pitching shoot ideas, negotiating wages, and added to my ever-growing list of certifications and to-do's for success in this field. 

I felt incredibly respected even as the youngest person there, and the producers I met during our "speed dating" rounds on the second day admired my early involvement and excitement. I plan to stay in touch with everyone I met during this weekend and work towards receiving my FAA Commercial Drone Piloting Certification, my Wilderness First-Aid Certification, and Rope Access Certification. Of course, I'll be making films along the way, and crossing my fingers that I'll be able to apply to UWE's Wildlife Filmmaking Masters Program one day :)


Quarter Reflection

Looking back on Winter 2023

As mentioned in this quarter's header, this quarter had some of my highest highs and lowest lows. Some of my lows made their way into my personal/social life, making relationships, friendships, and personal care quite difficult. I've been fortunate to be surrounded by a chosen family full of friends that truly believe in me and my abilities when everything seemingly goes to sh*t, and I've understood that now more than ever.

As a quick anecdote of this chosen family of mine, I got into my boyfriend's car on day during week 9 and there were three pieces of cardstock on the passenger seat. I grabbed the stack and put them down on the dashboard, not thinking much of the paper until my boyfriend said "Sammy, read them. These are for you".

All of my closest friends had written notes of encouragement to me across all three pages. I sobbed for the whole ten minutes it took to drive from my house to the light rail station, wiping away my tears and seeing streaks of mascara on my sleeves. I did not realize how much my decline had showed through to others, particularly because I try to hide it as much as I can. The person who probably understood most of my struggles in the quarter was my boyfriend, and he mentioned that he could notice my fluctuations in motivation and happiness over the duration of the quarter.

As someone who grew up watching the Incredible Dr. Pol and virtually every other veterinary reality TV show on NatGeo Wild, I understood one thing that made myself and wild animals the same: we mask our injuries.

However, when the mask fails, and someone manages to get onto your level and notice the small things that go awry from the day-to-day hustle, its like a million pounds of armor falls off your shoulders. This quarter was full of moments that made me feel my absolute worst, and finished with some of the most empowering and rejuvenating experiences thus far in my academic and personal journey. I feel as though with each reflection there ma be repetitions of this whole "work-life balance" bonanza, but that is really the way it is. Aside from my ongoing journey to understand this better and relearn definitions of self-worth and satisfaction, I have so many more interests and hobbies to explore along the way.

My goal from now on is to spend time reaffirming my identity beyond being a student and finally hit those goals and interests that fell dormant during my first two years of undergrad. I feel more equipped with all the tools and tips of people in the many trades I hope to explore, and finally discovered have a backbone of support that does not think of me any less when I do lose my way.

Whatever the spring brings me, I hope my days are full of fulfillment and excitement for the future. I've been careful in reflection on my systems and processes as a student and as a fresh 20 year old who just wants to be happy. Keeping consistent with my goal-keeping and habit tracking will ultimately do me the greatest amount of good, and I cannot wait to see what highs I achieve next.

Word Count: 549

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