Sunday, November 18, 2012

Thankful for Drake!

    Thanksgiving is almost here! I, as well as most students, will be thankful for a three-day break from classes and a nice time at home with my family! Because being thankful is the reason for the season, today I decided to think about the top five things I’m thankful for about at Drake (in no particular order).

1.    Size – Being an introvert, going to a smaller University has been such a blessing. Class sizes can be very small, which gives you a great opportunity to get to know your classmates and professors really well. It’s really great! The average class size at Drake is 21 students. However, as you progress into upper-level classes, they can get really small. Last year I took three different chemistry courses, each of which contained only myself, one other student, and the professor! This isn’t the norm, as there aren’t too many chemistry majors, but the trend is visible across all disciplines and majors.
2.    People – Drake wouldn’t be Drake if it weren’t for all the people who make this University what it is. There have been so many different people who have impacted my life, and made Drake a truly incredible place. After I graduate, I know that my fondest memories will be of the relationships I formed here. For the most part, everyone is very friendly here too, which is great! Over these past four years, I’ve had the privilege to have gotten to know awesome roommates, brothers and sisters in Christ, cross country and track teammates, people whose views are much different than mine, Diane (my fantastic girlfriend!), and so many more! Drake has a reputation for being an outstanding institution, and this recognition reflects the people who make Drake, well Drake!
3.    Campus Fellowship – This is one of the Christian organizations on campus that I started getting involved in at the end of my freshman year. The things I’ve learned through it, and the relationships I’ve made through it have truly changed and impacted my life. It’s encouraging to be part of a body where there are many others who want to live for Christ!
4.    Running – I ended up choosing to come to Drake to be part of the cross country and track teams. My time on the team has been really good. It’s been fantastic to be part of a group of guys who are striving for success in running too. I’m lucky to be able to run with and workout with a hard working bunch of guys who push me to reach my potential. A lot of lessons I’ve learned through running I can apply to other areas of my life.
5.    Diversity – is present in so many ways at Drake! I’ve met people from all walks of life from all over the world, from many different cultures and backgrounds. Drake fosters an environment of diversity in many ways, one of which is by having students take courses out of their discipline. I’ve been blessed to be able to meet people from all throughout the Midwest and U.S., Asia, New Zealand, Europe, Africa, and Asia. I’ve even been encouraged to go out and venture the world and see other cultures first hand, which I did by studying abroad in Spain. The many different view points I’ve encountered have helped my critical thinking skills and have challenged me in my beliefs.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Drake Listens!

    One of the things that has impressed me most about Drake’s administrative staff and the student senate is their willingness to listen to students’ concerns and needs. I remember in high school, the student council committee was available to listen to the student body’s problems. They always promised change, but nothing ever happened. At Drake, the student senate does listen and take action. Two notable cases come to mind.
    This past year lower Olmsted was renovated and converted into a new fitness center with great strength and cardio equipment. It's now called Underground Fitness. When I first arrived at Drake, it was a dark and dreary cafeteria. Students complained that the Bell Center was too crowded (it really was). Student senate listened to our campus’ concerns, and brought the matter to the faculty senate. Long story short, there are now two great locations to workout on campus, each of which has plenty of space! It all happened because students took the initiative to voice their concerns. 
    The price of printing ink can be deceiving. For my printer, replacing the black and color carriages costs almost as much as the entire printer itself! Last year, Drake decided to allocate each student $20.00 in printing per semester. There are printing stations set up in almost every building on campus. The wireless PaperCut system allows students to print documents from their laptops to any printer at anytime. This small allocation of student funds has been a huge saving for many others and myself. I’ve noticed these changes and more throughout my time at Drake. It’s awesome to be part of a student body where the administration cares about and wants to meet our needs.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Broadening Perspectives at Drake

    One of the things I was least looking forward to when I came to Drake was having to take areas of inquiry (AOI), or more commonly known as generals. At other schools, I could graduate with degrees in chemistry and math with only having to take science and math. At first I viewed these “extra” courses as unnecessary and a waste of my time. I thought I would benefit more from taking more classes that would be directly relevant and applicable to my career. It turns out that AOIs have been some of the best classes I’ve taken at Drake. They’ve helped expand my horizons and have forced me to adapt new viewpoints and challenge my thinking. Post graduation, I’ll probably look back on these classes that I actually learned and took away more from my AOIs than I did in some of my chemistry and math classes. Honestly, I don’t think I’ll ever have the bug to think about solving a differential equation by using a Fourier Series transformation. But concepts I’ve learned in philosophy, psychology, and politics classes will continue to remain relevant in my life.
    A lot of these “extra classes” have also reinforced and expanded material I’ve learned in chemistry and math. For my math major, I took a game theory class last spring, and we studied a classic example, The Prisoner’s Dilemma, extensively in many different formats. I also learned about this dilemma in a world politics class, and just recently again in my psychology class. I feel have a broader perspective on the importance and relevance of this classic situation, thanks to exposure in multiple classes from multiple viewpoints.
    What class has been the most rewarding class from my Drake experience so far? Sophomore year I took China and the World, a class that satisfied my ‘Engaged Citizen’ AOI. In hindsight, it probably wasn’t wise that I decided to take an upper-level politics course, but it genuinely interested me. Every other student in the class was a politics major, so I had to work really hard and get caught up on things that they already understood well. The class culminated in a final paper that forced me to analyze whether or not, and in what way, is China a threat to the U.S. That’s something that I’ve never had to do in chemistry nor math classes, and it challenged me and forced me to grow in so many ways. My writing improved drastically in that course, as well as my critical thinking and analysis skills, which in turn aids me in classes in my majors. Moreover, a lot of these classes have sparked interests in me that I didn’t even know I had. To fulfill my artistic AOI, I even studied art in Madrid for a summer. I’m so glad that the Drake curriculum makes students take AOIs.