• Evolving as a ChemE

    by Meghan Nguyen

    blog image alt text

    With time comes change. It is no secret that engineering has a challenging curriculum, especially Chemical Engineering (ChemE). For community college transfers, the transition can be blindsiding compared to expectations, which is exactly what happened for me. Like a rollercoaster, I was in line to begin a new ride of my life, along with other “top-notch” students. But little did I know, the journey ahead of me was going to be different than expected.

    Claiming My New Reality

    Stepping up to a four-year university was an exciting challenge for me. In the beginning, I looked forward to socializing with others who shared my STEMsation passion and occupying my downtime with extracurriculars. Once I realized what I would face, I was overwhelmed with fear and panic. My first round of tests discouraged me into second-guessing my abilities; even altering my ways of learning and studying made no change in my grades. It was like the wind kept pushing me back and I kept enduring the turbulence without time to process or recover what just happened. I went downhill fast. 

    Harnessing My Energy

    A quarter into my first semester, I hit rock-bottom. I noticed I was not my typical self and forgot what my education meant to me. My education seemingly turned into an obligation rather than enjoyment. It took some time before I knew what to do. I realized I had to begin with my mental health. There came a period where I had to let go of my unrealistic expectations and focus on myself—my goals, thoughts, actions, and reflection. Patience and time were key components to my process. For example, the most effective part of taking action was verbally encouraging myself that I need to keep moving forward, repeatedly saying “You got this Meg!” and “You can do it!” After facing numerous loops, something in me had to also change. My ultimate hope was to glide upwards and escalate from there. 

    Elevating My Dedication to My Major

    Despite the twists and turns, I was determined to show others that I was the embodiment of a slingshot effect, pulling myself backwards then shooting towards my target. With my dedication to my goals, I knew I was not going to fall easily. Struggling with one of my most challenging, weed-out courses led me to seek the help of a tutor. Utilizing my professors’ office hours also contributed to my desire to improve my education. Not only did I reach out for more help, but also found myself networking and studying with my peers in the program, especially, Chemical Engineering transfers. Along the ride, I eventually reunited with my grit and felt more like myself than before, ready and looking forward to class instead of dreading it. 

    Maintaining Consistency 

    To reach your goals, the most important elements are staying in the game and continuing to be engaged and committed. While I may have seemed on track, nothing lasts forever unless you create regularity. The only way I could secure myself from being stuck in a stand-still was recognizing that I was always going to be like a sine graph oscillating up and down periodically hitting highs and lows. So, moments when people were not around, it was up to me to utilize other forms of materials for my classes like videos, online academic sources, and textbooks. After refocusing myself to my studies and continuously taking time for my mental and physical health, by the end of the semester, I was filled with the sensation of thrill, excitement, and refreshment. 

    Educating Myself

    My professors always told me that it was up to me to decide my future—nobody was going to do it for me. The biggest lesson from my first semester at a university was taking initiative to get what I wanted from my education. I learned to be a positive coach for myself and that reaching out for help is normal; mentors and friends are constantly jumping on-board to support; and everything will work itself out.

    If you are struggling with school and feeling out of place, know that there is a way out. As long as you are willing to work hard and work on yourself, you can make it through and achieve anything you want.  I realized my potential to strive for bigger and better and not keep my hopes down because my rollercoaster is not coming to an end anytime soon. I choose to continue moving forward in my adventure, for success starts with me.

     

    read more
  • The STEM sensation

    by Meghan Nguyen

    blog image alt text

    STEM fields (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) may not appeal to everybody at first, but eventually a passion for this may find us in some form. From utilizing technology, to enrolling in mathematics classes, to performing lab experiments, STEM has a way of influencing us to do our best and make us crave more. But for me, it was a combination of them all. Choosing to be a STEM major was not an immediate decision; it was a process that I had to figure out at my own pace. STEM exposed a little portion of itself to me, and I wanted more—like an addiction that I could not contain.

    Stepping up to the plate

    The first two years of high school can be overwhelming with graduation requirements and miscellaneous work whose purpose may not be clear at the time. Over the course of those two years, all I knew was that I performed well in math, and I wanted to stay away from subjects that did not challenge my brain to think harder and “out of the box.” However, I never figured out or had a career plan for college. I simply did what was expected of me and completed school. Throughout those years, numbers and scientific truths seemed to “throw themselves” at me, and it somehow stuck. Did I know what this meant? No. Was I confused about why numerical and science-like concepts appeared easier than reading a simple story and analyzing it? Absolutely. I was curious. I had this small tiny spark that needed help igniting, and I desired a flame.

    Taking action to understand the math and science stigma

    I had this “thing” in me, and I needed help. I skewed away from taking easy-A classes and knew that courses like physics and calculus were the ones for me. There was just something about understanding the world, and the nature of objects and actions, and applying math to real-world scenarios that was so intriguing. At that moment, STEM was a stigma that the previous generation pushed the future generations to pursue, and to this day it is still wildly supported and important. Everything around was transforming for the better and I needed to be part of that chain-reaction. My teachers pushed me to do my best and impacted my decision on a career. They made learning enjoyable and less like an obligation. Long story short, I had this kindling flame, and near the end of my high school chapter, I ended up with this untamable wildfire spreading throughout my body with excitement.

    Energizing my education towards chemical engineering

    Picking a specific career is not easy, especially for me. My excessive drive to learn influenced me to go in all sorts of directions from dermatology to business, and economics to mathematics, to physics to engineering; unfortunately, there is no time to do them all. Yes, I excelled in the mathematics and sciences. But, how could I combine all of the preceding fields and have room for flexibility? After hours of research and curriculum comparisons, I ultimately selected chemical engineering. This area of engineering plays a role in all of the engineering disciplines and overlaps in production of pharmaceuticals, energy, and produce goods. It’s a diverse field with opportunity and potential to do great that I could not pass up.

    Making my mark

    Being a chemical engineering major gives me insight on how to think and a new perspective to view my surroundings. But I could not have done it without help from my mentors, friends, supporters, and outside sources. Nobody simply excels alone; this process is a team effort, and I am proud to be chosen as a Pearson Scholar of Higher Education. Through this scholarship Pearson provides access to their exceptional services and extra study materials that are used in my classes. The opportunity to be affiliated with Pearson and their mentorship program has shown me that I can be the best version of myself by fully utilizing what is around me to my benefit. Within chemical engineering, one of my goals is to mentor and influence the upcoming generation to pursue STEM-related majors. In addition, I intend to start a scholarship fund for those who are in financial need and want to have a career in the STEM field. Pearson is doing just that for me, and I hope to continue the legacy of “creating fulfilling careers and better lives” and initiating the STEM-sensational spark in others.

     

    read more