I couldn’t believe it! I was finally a newly admitted student to my dream school, New York University (NYU). As congratulatory confetti swept down my laptop screen, I felt tears of joy well up. All the hardships I encountered for taking a gap year were worth the struggle because my dream school was now my reality.
Coming into NYU, I already knew what the perfect major was for me: Education Studies.
It was broad enough for me to take on the different roles in the field of education. Sometimes, I was a student. Other times, I was put in the role of a researcher, philosopher, sociologist, and even a teacher.
Experiential learning was the key ingredient to my academic growth. And learning through experience was something new to me. I found this learning style most appealing and felt that it suited me the most. I was able to utilize my senses and emotions. They helped me relate better to all the course content being taught to me. Because of that, I am able to apply all the theories and examples to real life, and most importantly, to myself.
Life in New York pushed me out of my comfort zone and there, I learned to reach out to others whenever I needed help.
The first few individuals I contacted when I was feeling homesick and lost were both my General Advisor (GA) Jamie and orientation leader (OL) Beena. Because I kept connecting with them, we developed an authentic friendship and a strong sense of trust. This connection I forged with them led to personal and school-related meetings where they would ask for my suggestions about how to enhance the Education Studies curriculum.
One day, I remember my advisor having trouble figuring out what to call our Education Studies batch when sending out emails because using certain personal pronouns categorized individuals into generalized groups, which was deemed offensive. So, I randomly coined the term “ed studs” and told them that this generic label did not connote a particular gender, so they ended up using it to address our class in their emails.
I was tasked to give a testimonial on what to expect from the Education Studies program to incoming freshmen. The year after, I was then asked to join the Education Studies board.
Ever since then, I saw challenges as more exciting and fulfilling opportunities.
These moments of discomfort allow you to be open-minded to forming new connections, embracing intellectual stimulation, and gaining something greater than knowledge – values.
As I got used to my new life at NYU and spread my wings further, a newfound voice within me was unleashed. I remembered how much I struggled in High School and during my gap year because of the lack of emotional and academic support my school and counselors provided. I realized that what I hope to address is the lack of access to equal educational opportunity as well as the right kind of academic and mental health support system for students to be able to reach their full potential.
At NYU, I was surrounded by true educators.
These were real educators because they understood that students have a life outside of the classroom, that we all make mistakes, but also have our own strengths. These professors and mentors saw something in me and believed in me. I internalized their confidence and respect towards me. As a result, I ended up thriving and becoming more like myself.
NYU is a true educator because it helped me pave my own path to success.
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