Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Day 4: Top 10 Pictures

Delayed, but as promised, my top 10 favorite photos from my four years at Drake. Here they are, in no particular order:

How could this girl not make the list?

Tons of great times with the chemistry club! This was before the relay for life event in the spring of 2012.

I helped out with the Campus Fellowship Valentine's Day Dinner all four years, and CF played a huge role in my life at Drake. Here I am with my mom and sister in 2010.

Spain! The summer of 2010 was amazing. Dad, my sister, and great aunt.

Cross country and track were the things that really drew me to Drake, and it was a great career. My first xc race in 2009.

I was lucky enough to have been able to attend the "Altitude Project", a Christian running camp in Mammoth Lakes, CA for three weeks in the summer of 2010 and 2011. Here I am with Ryan Hall, an awesome marathoner and Olympian!

At a Real Madrid Game with my cousin Yas and her friend Fran.

Halloween was always fun!

The Pecoraro group at the University of Michigan, where I conducted research last summer.

Street Painting was a blast!

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Day 3: Top Five Memories

    This day may be the hardest to write about, there are so many good memories to choose from; it’s hard to pick just five! I’ll aim for specific moments rather than broad events. Here’s my best shot:

1.    Coming to Grips with Christianity – I grew up going to church my whole life, but it never meant much to me until my freshman year of college. On May 7, 2010, I was at Smokey Row Coffee Shop with some friends, and after reading through the book of Romans and with a little help from my friends, I had an epiphany and Christianity finally clicked for me. I realized that my efforts to live a good life did not line up with God’s holy, perfect standards. I realized that the only way I could ever be reconciled in God’s eyes was if I accepted Jesus Christ as my personal savior. I chose to make that decision that night, and my life has never been the same.
2.    Hubble – So many good meals shared with friends, but one sticks out in particular. Freshman year, I got a meal with my organic chemistry partner after we finished up with some homework. She invited her friend to join us, and turns out a few years later we’d begin dating and still are. Funny how things work out.
3.    Workouts at Raccoon River Park – During cross country season, the squad would often head out to Raccoon River Park in West Des Moines to do some harder runs. It was nice getting a change in scenery from the usual Kingman Blvd., and everyone always seemed to be in good spirits.
4.    Change! – After about two weeks into my research experience at the University of Michigan, I knew that I didn’t want to pursue a career in research. It was a challenging summer, but I had so much support from my family back home, and my academic advisor, Dr. Vitha helped me out a ton too. I eventually figured out that I thought I’d really like to be a physical therapist. Not ideal to have a major career shift before your senior year of college, but better late than never! Synthesizing a molecule that had never been made before stands out from this summer too!
5.    Move in Weekend – the anticipation of starting college was tremendous, I remember the day so vividly. One of the things that stands out most is during the first night when you meet everyone on the same floor of your dorm, I met a guy who lived across the hall from me who would also be on the track team. Turns out we hit it off pretty good, and have now lived together with a few other guys for the past three years!

Last year's Drake Relays theme was "Memories in Motion".

Day 2: Top Five Experiences

    What have been the best five experiences in my time at Drake? Most of these experiences I think are unique to my time at Drake, I probably wouldn’t have gotten involved with these types of things if I went elsewhere.

1.    Christianity – I never expected to get involved with a Christian organization (Campus Fellowship) in college. Not only was this a life (and eternity) changing experience, I’ve my best friends through this organization, and have been able to live out my faith in Christ with others who do also. I also met my wonderful girlfriend through the Bible study I was involved in last year, she’s pretty great
2.    Drake Cross Country and Track and Field – This was a dream of mine since high school, and I got to experience four years of NCAA Division I distance running. I’m thankful for the relationships, memories, and lessons I’ll take away from this experience. It was fun pushing my body to the limit, being on a college team, and travelling to cool places to compete.
3.    Study Abroad in Spain – A fantastic summer, where I lived with my aunt, uncle, and cousins in Spain, and also took an art class for credit. During the last few weeks, I traveled throughout the country with my dad and sister, and visited London for a few days. I grew so much this summer, and really developed an interest for art, and got the bug to travel and see more of the world. Study abroad is a must do for every college student.
4.    Undergraduate Research – It can be hard to do this at many institutions, but at Drake, I was able to start research with a professor during my freshman year. I ended up working on three different projects and Drake, and spent last summer at the University of Michigan synthesizing some new molecules. An incredible learning experience really made the material we learned in lecture come alive.
5.    Chemistry Club – It was fun getting involved with a philanthropy based club related to my major. I was involved all four years and got to serve as president last year. It was another great opportunity to learn and serve.

Monday, May 13, 2013

The Five Days of Finals: Day One - Favorite Courses

    The end is here. Today marked the beginning of the most dreaded week on campus: finals. Grades will be finalized, and the semester will come to a close, and for many seniors, including myself, it marks the last obstacle before commencement on Sunday. I haven’t been good about blogging lately, so I’ve decided to use blogging as a study break this week. Each day this week, I’ll write about a specific part of my college experience, and I’ll attempt to come up with a “top 5 list”. This will be difficult, but I’ll start day one with the best courses I’ve taken at Drake.

1.    Art in Spain – I took this course over the summer between my sophomore and junior years in Madrid. What an amazing course! We learned about some of Spain’s greatest painters in the classroom, then hopped on the subway to check out the masterpieces in person. It really gave me an appreciation for art, an experience I will never forget.
2.    China and the World – I’m still not sure why I decided to take an upper-level politics course for an Area of Inquiry requirement, but I’m glad I did. The content of this course was relevant, interesting, but most of all, this class challenged me like none others. I was forced to critique, analyze, and write about America’s relationship with China, and it was hard. Out of all classes at Drake, my reading and writing skills were improved most in this course.
3.    Advanced Inorganic Chemistry – The hardest class in my major bar none. Inorganic chemistry turned out to be my favorite sub-discipline of chemistry (which surprised me), however the best part of this class was that I was forced to learn how to teach myself. The laboratory component of this course was based off of the primary literature, and I was forced to do a lot of the learning on my own. This class helped me establish independent learning, which has helped me immensely in so many areas of my life.
4.     Quantitative Chemical Analysis – A course that invoked immense amounts of detail! Truly showed me that it’s not worth doing something unless you do it the right way!
5.    Introduction to Philosophy – This course also challenged my reading, critical thinking, and writing skills. I most enjoyed the diverse topics we covered such as the concept of free will and proofs for the existence of God. Some of the concepts we learned about sparked my curiosity to learn more about God, seek truth, and set me on a path to examine my own views and beliefs.

One thing that stands out to me about this list is that only two out of the top five courses were within my majors. I never would have expected this coming to Drake, I’m so thankful that we’re required to take AOIs! They’ve helped me grow as a student and person more than the courses in my major in terms of the skills that I’ll need for the rest of my life (critical thinking, reading, writing).