I truly can’t believe that my first year at the University of Cincinnati went by so quickly. Between school, service, work, and dance, it seems like I barely had any time to myself, but this whirlwind of a year is an experience I wouldn’t change for anything.

Freshman Year

School. Most people my age want it over and done with. I, however, have always enjoyed school. Not necessarily the tests and associated stresses, but the learning and evolving that accompanies school has always been an enjoyment of mine. Though I was taken by surprise by how much of a time commitment the classes required outside of the meeting hours, I found throughout this first year that I appreciate learning about how the world around me works, a trait which reinforces my decision to choose my major of mechanical engineering, a major with a wide range of applications of physics. I finished the year with incredible new friendships and strengthened old ones.

Photo Credits: 2 - Dr. Junqiu Wang, 3 - James Knight, 4 - Marin Berlon

Service. I am no stranger to service. In high school, I had to meet a minimum service requirement each year, and I always completed more hours than were strictly required. However, no matter how many times I have attended a service event or given my time, I am always surprised at the impact the experience has on myself. Service itself is fulfilling. It’s being part of a community, meeting people of all backgrounds, and proving to yourself and others that we are all united in simply being human. I completed over 30 hours of service in addition to the volunteer work I do for the events run by the Cincinnati Donauschwaben (see About Me page, “Dancer”), and it is impossible to fully express how much I appreciate every hour of experience. In addition to my other service, volunteering at the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation’s Cycle for Life and 65 Roses Gala, working with children at an iSpace event focusing on STEM activities, and returning to the TechOlympics "Level Up" technology conference as a volunteer instead of an attendee have made this year more rewarding than I had ever anticipated.

Work. Somehow, I managed to complete this semester while working an average of 13 hours a week as a cashier. I work for a small convenience store with less than 20 employees, and after almost two and a half years of working there, my coworkers have become my friends and I have outgrown the shell that kept me from initiating conversations. Even after just my first year of college, I can tell that I am much more outgoing than I used to be. On campus, starting a conversation with someone is easy and can happen anywhere: in line at the bookstore, waiting for your caffeine fix at Starbucks, or even before a lecture begins. It says a lot about the community at UC that everyone is so willing to have a polite conversation with someone they have never met before.

Dance. I don’t remember a time when I wasn’t a dancer for the Cincinnati Donauschwaben. If my coworkers have become my friends, these people are my family. In the past year, I have taken upon myself more responsibilities as a member of the Donauschwaben, including leading some of the cooking for events and demonstrating dances for new members of the dance group. This leadership experience is invaluable to me as it gives me the opportunity to share what I have gained from the Donauschwaben to the next generation of members.

Photo Credits: 1, 2, 4 - Marcia Spraul, 5 - Megan Spraul

“In between goals is a thing called life, that has to be lived and enjoyed.”
– Sid Caeser

I spent a lot of time this year working on things that are required of me, but next year I plan to take more time for myself and to spend more time with my family and friends. I believe that now that I have “gotten my feet underneath me,” I will not have to spend as much time working outside of classes. I more familiar with the course load of a college student, and I have adjusted my work ethic accordingly. Additionally, this fall I will be beginning my first co-op, and I plan on getting the most out of this experience, both in professional and personal development. In my next school semester in the spring of 2020, my goal is to once again get all A’s or A-’s in my classes. I also want to become more involved in the Alpha Lambda Delta National Honor Society that I joined in order to fully take advantage of my time in college.