Why I Chose My Safety School

Why I Chose My Safety School

Sometimes, Fate has other plans than you do.
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Every high schooler wants to go to their dream college. For some, it’s Harvard, UCLA, PennState, or NYU. For me? It was the University of Delaware.

As an engineering major, most programs are super competitive. Was I disheartened that I did not get into the engineering program at UDel? Of course. Was I going to let it stop me from pursuing my degree in Civil/Environmental Engineering?

Hell no. For me, not going after my goals and dreams was not an option. However, I understood that everything happens for a reason and that I would be put on whichever path “Fate” chose.

Long story short, I was accepted into four out of five schools. However, I was only accepted into two engineering programs. Luckily, both of those were for Civil Engineering. One was at TCNJ, and the other Rowan University.

For me, I was really excited about TCNJ; my sister went there, it was a great sized campus, a great location, and I had a “home” feeling when I walked around

campus. I had even stayed there for a leadership conference, so I really got a feel for the campus. Rowan, on the other hand, was my safety school. Yes, the engineering program is great. However, I felt like I knew too many people that went there and I was afraid of not getting the opportunity to break out of my shell.

I attended the accepted students day for TCNJ, thinking that it was where I really was heading to for the next four years. I hadn’t officially said yes or no to either school, but I thought TCNJ was it. I was able to explore the campus one more time, see more dorms, hear about programs, and listen to a presentation given by the head of the Department of Civil Engineering at TCNJ.

He went through the usual statistics of it all and then went on to the disciplines within Civil Engineering. I knew that I wanted to go into the Environmental discipline. My passion for helping the environment and making the world greener was the whole reason I wanted to be an engineer. When I asked how many students go on to become Environmental Engineers, I was laughed at.

“We don’t do that here,” he said. With that, I got up, went home, and did my research on Rowan. Turns out, Rowan has a phenomenal Environmental Engineering program. Many students and faculty are involved and there is even a club on campus that helps with “green” initiatives. I was so confused. How could I go from loving TCNJ to strongly considering my safety school over it?

After many conversations with my mom, color-coded lists, and charts, I had come to the conclusion that Rowan University was the right decision for me. As the time between graduation and move-in day became shorter, I grew more confident in my choice. I realized that all of the people I knew that went to Rowan really had my back and were excited that I was going to be a part of their university.

As I prepared for Rowan, I completely fell in love with the university. I had the realization that I am a part of one of the country’s strongest engineering schools, I have a strong bond with a lot of Rowan-bound students (not to mention my two best friends from high school), and being closer to home was a great thing that I shouldn’t take for granted. Because of Rowan, I can see myself actually becoming an engineer. I feel as though my potential to grow here is far greater than any city school, any out-of-state school, or any Division 1 school. I am proud to say that I am a Prof.

Cover Image Credit: Christa Ouellette

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Working With People Who Are Dying Teaches You So Much About How To Live

Spending time with hospice patients taught me about the art of dying.

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Death is a difficult subject.

It is addressed differently across cultures, lifestyles, and religions, and it can be difficult to find the right words to say when in the company of someone who is dying. I have spent a lot of time working with hospice patients, and I bore witness to the varying degrees of memory loss and cognitive decline that accompany aging and disease.

The patients I worked with had diverse stories and interests, and although we might have had some trouble understanding each other, we found ways to communicate that transcended any typical conversation.

I especially learned a lot from patients severely affected by dementia.

They spoke in riddles, but their emotions were clearly communicated through their facial expressions and general demeanor, which told a story all on their own.

We would connect through smiles and short phrases, yes or no questions, but more often than not, their minds were in another place. Some patients would repeat the details of the same event, over and over, with varying levels of detail each time.

Others would revert to a child-like state, wondering about their parents, about school, and about family and friends they hadn't seen in a long time.

I often wondered why their minds chose to wander to a certain event or time period and leave them stranded there before the end of their life. Was an emotionally salient event reinforcing itself in their memories?

Was their subconscious trying to reconnect with people from their past? All I could do was agree and follow their lead because the last thing I wanted to do was break their pleasant memory.

I felt honored to be able to spend time with them, but I couldn't shake the feeling that I was intruding on their final moments, moments that might be better spent with family and loved ones. I didn't know them in their life, so I wondered how they benefited from my presence in their death.

However, after learning that several of the patients I visited didn't have anyone to come to see them, I began to cherish every moment spent, whether it was in laughter or in tears. Several of the patients never remembered me. Each week, I was a new person, and each week they had a different variation of the same story that they needed to tell me.

In a way, it might have made it easier to start fresh every week rather than to grow attached to a person they would soon leave.

Usually, the stories were light-hearted.

They were reliving a memory or experiencing life again as if it were the first time, but as the end draws nearer, a drastic shift in mood and demeanor is evident.

A patient who was once friendly and jolly can quickly become quiet, reflective, and despondent. I've seen patients break down and cry, not because of their current situation, but because they were mourning old ones. These times taught me a lot about how to be just what that person needs towards the end of their life.

I didn't need to understand why they were upset or what they wanted to say.

The somber tone and tired eyes let me know that what they had to say was important and worth hearing. What mattered most is that someone who cared was there to hear it.

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A Few Birthday Thoughts

Goodbye teenage years, hello twenties!

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So, it is looking like I am about to leave my teenage years behind. I think that I want to reflect back on this time in my life and think about what I want to keep with me in my twenties and maybe some things I can let go. My teenage years have been full of love from my family and friends; hard work to make good grades in school and creating art. I developed several great friendships that I have held on to across the miles even though I went to college 14 hours away from our previous home. I am so thankful for the friendships I have made in college as well.

It seems like friends you make in your childhood and younger years can really stand the test of time. Maybe it is because when you became friends you were truly who you were. Everyone was genuine and didn't put up walls to protect themselves. You got to know someone on a deeper more personal level more quickly than if you had met later in life. I also think we laughed even more as children and that always creates good memories to look back on. So I think in my twenties I will try to hang on to the "childish" way of making friends. I will try to show my true self and will accept them for who they are, and we will laugh....a lot.

I think a good thing to let go of is always trying to make dead-end relationships work. When we were children on the playground and we tried to play a game together or jump rope and it just wasn't working, we would run off and find someone else. It was easy. It was just natural. Now sometimes I find myself trying to stay in a relationship by being overly nice, giving gifts, trying to find what pushes the persons "good" buttons. I might spend so much time trying to figure this person out that I leave out more solid relationships that are worth my time. So in my twenties, I will try to be more realistic about who to spend my time on. Some people are just never going to stand the test of time. I can continue to be cordial but won't let them rule my time and thought life.

As children, we loved our parents and siblings and would show love to them in a myriad of ways. Maybe it was hugs, pictures on the fridge, good night kisses, playing games, or just quality time spent together as a family. Starting my twenties, I am mature enough to realize the value of these people in my life. Thankfully, I have always known this. I was never the type that was embarrassed if someone saw me walking with my Mom or Dad or being dropped off in the Mom Van somewhere. I always knew these people loved me more than anyone else I was about to meet. But in my twenties, I plan to keep up with my family even when I am eight hours away from them. We are never too old to need the love of family.

As weird as it is to say goodbye to my teenage years, it's honestly helped me to soak in the precious moments of everyday life and treasure them even more. Every year when birthdays come around, it always serves as a reminder how quickly the days, months, and years fly by. I think that has been one difficult part of this birthday season. It's hard to say goodbye to the past, without a clear map of the future. But, I must remind myself that this is why growing up is a beautiful thing- as we live life and experience new things, we are better prepared for what the future may hold. Everything that I have experienced in my 20 years has served an important purpose- to make me into the person I am supposed to become. Yes, life is always changing and so am I... and change can be hard. Very hard. But one thing to remember is God is always constant. He will never change. No matter what number is on your birthday cake, He is always there...the same God yesterday, today and tomorrow. He is the Rock that we will always be able to cling to. Isn't that a wonderful thought? Even if we don't know what's in His plans for us in the coming year, it's important to make Him a part of our plans. Rather than worry about change, let's embrace it all- the good and the bad- and look to the Lord to see how He will guide and shape us.

Teenage years- the time has come. I must say goodbye to you now. But, you will never be forgotten. I will hold your memories in my heart forever. Twenties- I am excited for all that awaits me.

"Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go." - Joshua 1:9

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