Monday, March 9, 2015

My Journey at U-M

When I first arrived at the University of Michigan and set my foot on the Diag, I was scared but excited. What is college in America like? Am I going to make new friends? Am I going to find a major that I like? I didn’t know what my next four years would be like, except for the fact that I wanted to help people. Looking back, college is where I found my passion for social justice and my true self. After I obtain my bachelor’s degree, I will be enrolling in the School of Social Work to continue on my education and advocate for social changes in the US. I also hope to get a Master of Public Health degree so I can look at sexual assault through a public health lens and address the much needed societal responsibility when it comes to raising awareness and preventing sexual assault. In last three years at U of M, I learned that the integration of many different subjects and interests is not only possible, but also encouraged – cross-disciplinary learning promotes comprehensive and integrative thinking. I don’t have to limit myself to taking classes I don’t like just so I can have a “good job” – I could combine my interests and passions into my future plans. As you continue your individual journey at U of M, here are some tips for finding your niche and passion, as I have found mine:

1.     Challenge Yourself
Take courses that you know nothing about. How about a coding class? How about an acting class? Even if it doesn’t have anything to do with your major, take a chance. You may end up liking it and finding your new passion.

2.     Re-define Your Idea of a “Good Class”
You will often hear people looking for a “good class”. While some may be looking for a class in which you can learn a lot from a respectable professor, some also mean an “Easy A” class – a class where you don’t have to work hard. Though it is tempting (who doesn’t want an A?), remember that college should be more than getting good grades. Will this class challenge you? Will you learn something that will be useful when you enter the workforce? Even if you have to work a bit harder, truly good classes will challenge your skills and give you an opportunity to learn about yourself.

3.     Join Clubs and Organizations and Be Active
Just joining an organization is not enough. Do something. Take charge. Bring up new ideas to the club and accomplish something, whether it is creating a new event of fundraising for a good cause. While developing essential leadership skills, you will also find yourself a supportive group of friends who have the same interests and goals as you.

4.     Make Connections and Take Them Seriously
Just because I am interested in social justice doesn’t mean I only hang out with people with the same interests. Meet different types of people and make connections. You never know when and where they might be able to help you out. Be thankful for their existences in your life. A lot of the connections I made help me throughout my graduate school application process and I feel very lucky to always have their support.

I still have a lot to learn myself, but I am thrilled to continue on my education in fields I am passionate about. Don’t think about learning as a boring process but rather a journey where you find yourself and your dreams. If you are an architect who is passionate about the environment, think about ways to build structures that are environmentally friendly. If you are an engineer who is passionate about dancing, think about ways to better dance stages or shows by creating new mechanics and equipments used in backstage. Your goals are limitless; all you have to do is find your passion in something and incorporate your knowledge.

Sarah Hong
South Korea
Bachelor: Biopsychology, Cognition and Neuroscience