Student Post: It’s Never Too Early

Grand Valley promotes studying abroad tremendously. There are fairs, thousands of pamphlets, presentations in most classes, and tons of students in Kirkhof desperately trying to get your attention.  When I first arrived at Grand Valley, I had the preconceived notion that studying abroad was only something I could do as an upperclassman. Those amazing trips were just for seniors, for people who had their lives (and senior projects) figured out, for people who were ready to leave their families and friends for three months. However, at the beginning of winter semester in my freshman year, I began to think about what I was going to do with my summer. I didn’t enjoy being home like most first-year students, and I needed to do something to better myself—but I was a freshman. The semester before, I had taken a Live.Learn.Lead class in FMHC that focused on owning your education. I reflected on this class and realized that the number of credit hours I had did not affect how mature I was, or how well I could understand life in another country. While I had this empowering feeling, I applied to the Honors Service Learning trip in Ghana, Africa. I still hadn’t completely convinced myself that I could travel across the world and live in a third world country for the summer, but what harm could be done by applying?

I didn’t even tell my family when the acceptance emails arrived, and I went to the first meeting still unsure of how I felt about the trip. However, after hearing the excitement from the other accepted students and listening to heartwarming stories from the professor, I knew it was exactly what I needed. I would have the opportunity to volunteer in hospitals, clinics, and schools, to understand life from a completely different viewpoint, and to make forever friends who would experience every moment with me—which is exactly what I did.

I left for Ghana on June 9th, ready to spend the next seven weeks learning all that I could and soaking up every part of the most exciting journey I’d ever been on. We stayed with a Ghanaian family in a hostel, which quickly became home. On the second day of volunteering in the hospitals, I had already seen more than I ever could while shadowing a doctor in the United States. With every minute, I was further understanding the meaning of ‘third world country’ and developing a deeper gratitude for the life I was given.

After returning, I was at a loss for words to explain what I had learned and how I felt. I had the time of my life. I was completely humbled by the happiness and love I found in each person I met, as well as the beaches, landscapes, and animals I saw. This wasn’t, and still isn’t, something that can be put into words. It is something that MUST be experienced.

Reflecting on the day I applied to go to Ghana, I can’t believe that I ever thought I had to be an upperclassman to study abroad. In my opinion, going as a freshman benefitted me more than if I had been a senior. For starters, I didn’t have any plans for the summer after my freshman year. I didn’t have an internship or an amazing job at a hospital or a school, and none of my friends were getting married or having babies. I wasn’t missing anything. Furthermore, this experience will help me, not only with applying to medical school but with the rest of my college career. Being able to see the ins and outs of medical care up close solidified that the degree I am working toward is exactly what I want to do with the rest of my life. Also, having experience abroad shadowing doctors and working in hospitals and clinics gives me a better chance to do the same things here. I now have a better understanding of the world and of life, which I can use in each of my other classes. I can relate almost anything to my experience in Ghana. Finally, studying abroad my freshman year gave me the courage to take control of my education and ensure that I am getting exactly what I want out of my college experience—and it gave me time to study abroad again.

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Lauren Robb is a sophomore in the Frederik Meijer Honors College at GVSU, majoring in Biomedical Sciences with a minor in Applied Statistics. She enjoys playing intramural sports, being outside, and hanging out with friends. Lauren loves learning about medicine and health care through her job as a scribe as well as her volunteer work. Her one piece of advice for all GVSU students is to study abroad at least once, no matter how long it’s for!

Skip the Advising and do it the Hard Way: 5 Reasons Not to See Your Advisor

Advising is a hassle and no one likes it. Here are five reasons why you shouldn’t bother meeting with an advisor:

  1. Meg and Kelly, the new Honors Advisors are really boring people and some would consider them downright mean. They are closed-minded, unsympathetic, and not even helpful. They won’t help you brainstorm, share their experiences, or offer support if you’re going through a difficult time.
  2. Meg and Kelly have never been abroad, especially not to places like El Salvador, Belize, Guatemala, Mexico, Nicaragua, Honduras, Jamaica, Grand Cayman, England, Thailand, Ghana, or Costa Rica. They will certainly not encourage you to travel either—forget helping you or referring you to places where you could get funding to travel. They don’t care about any of that!
  3. Why get a thumbs up before graduation? How about you show up to commencement and risk your name not being called because you missed something. It’s worth risking another semester at GVSU just to save a few minutes now!
  4. Meg and Kelly are not at all connected across campus. If you are interested in research, job opportunities, and more, they won’t know where to send you. Plus, that’s not their job!
  5. Meg and Kelly are notoriously unavailable. They don’t respond to emails, don’t have openings on their calendars, and never hold open advising sessions. They twiddle their thumbs, come in late and leave early, and basically spend their time on Facebook and Instagram, keeping their office doors closed and avoiding contact with students.

Actually…..In case you couldn’t tell, Meg and Kelly have a good sense of humor and are both excited about being advisors within the Honors College. Combined, they have spent over 20 years working in the fields of higher education, non-profit, international development, k-12 education, and community engagement.  They will both be teaching a section of Live.Learn.Lead in the fall semester and they look forward to meeting you.  Stop by the office or call to schedule an appointment or pop in for open advising sessions that are publicized in the weekly FMHC announcements.

Student Post: Conferences, Presenting as an Undergrad

When you hear the word “conference,” it can sound big and scary. They’re not only reserved for graduate students and scientists, though. I have been fortunate enough to present at a conference twice now in my undergraduate career, and hope to present at more before I graduate. I am a part of the GVSU Honors Mentor Council, where we plan the welcome days for Honors first-year students. I was a mentee as a freshman, became a mentor as a sophomore and was accepted onto the mentor council for the second semester of my sophomore year.

At the very beginning of my sophomore year, I received an email asking if anyone would like to attend the National Mentoring Symposium in Indianapolis. Shortly after, I found out that I was going to help present at the conference, and I hadn’t even started my own role as a mentor yet. I thought going to the conference would be fun, but presenting would be not only be a great thing to put on my resume, but also a great experience to better my presenting skills.

I’m not one to willingly speak in front of large groups of people. I always stumble over my words, and speak too quickly when I get nervous. No matter how much I practice, there is no saving myself. Needless to say, I was terrified before I attended my first conference. I was working with Erin Koren and Glenn Miller, two members of the mentor council at the time. Luckily, they already had the proposal submitted and approved, and even had a general outline of what they wanted to present. They were nice enough to let me choose what part I wanted to present, and helped me feel more confident in myself. We practiced the presentation a few times so we knew we would fill the full hour slot, and if I got nervous and spoke fast, Glenn was prepared to ramble during his sections to make up for my lost time. Without these two wonderful people, I don’t think I would have had the confidence to go through with it.

Once we got to the conference, all of the nerves set in. The first room that we started in to eat breakfast and listen to the key note speaker held close to 500 people. Luckily, when we presented during our concurrent session, we only spoke to maybe 30 people at the most. They all seemed to love our presentation, and were very active in participating, which made everything a lot more comfortable. Comfortable enough that when given the opportunity to present a second time, I jumped at the chance! This past fall, I was asked to present a second time at the same symposium. This time, I took more of a leading role when submitting the proposal and abstract, and Emma Hahs and Darby Naheedy helped me present. We all had such a great time this fall and I think we all learned a lot.

If I had any advice to give to anyone considering presenting at something similar to the National Mentoring Symposium, it would be to take the opportunity in a heartbeat. I never would have thought that something like this would ever affect me as much as it did. My first conference made me realize that I wanted to be a part of the mentor council and make some changes based on what I learned at the conference. I also learned that I am capable of accomplishing things that I am absolutely terrified of. I learned a lot about myself, and about mentoring through both of these conferences, and I plan to take any conference opportunity that comes my way.

 

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Kate Langmeyer is a third year honors student studying wildlife biology and nonprofit administration. She was born and raised on the east side of Michigan before moving out to Allendale to attend Grand Valley State University. She is a part of the Honors Mentor Council, as well as on e-board for the GVSU belly dancing club. During her free time, she can be found reading quietly or watching documentaries. She hopes to one day work in marine mammal rescue and rehabilitation. 

Honors Hack: Student Opportunity Center

There are many resources available to Honors Students who are looking for opportunities to succeed, such as conferences, internships, scholarships and other events. One little-known resource is designed specifically for this, and you will definitely want to check it out.

The Student Opportunity Center is a resource that connects you to over 8000 events, journals, internships, and funding opportunities. It is free, easy to use, and flexible to your interests. All you need is your @mail.gvsu.edu email address to sign up.

Once you log on you’ll be able to access:

  • Events & Experiential Learning
    • Find over 10,000 conferences, symposiums, publications, and intern/scholar program
  • Most Relevant Opportunities
    • Opportunities are specifically chosen and vetted for over 100 majors, minors, and interests
  • Regularly Updated Information
    • The entire database is updated once every 30 days, and growing at a rate of 5% per month

You can find information specific to Grand Valley, or search worldwide for opportunities you might be interested in. The cool thing is that once you input your interests, it will tailor search results just for you and give you recommendations. You can also sign up for reminders and notifications for your interests.

If you’re a student looking for an internship or research opportunity, the Student Opportunity Center is something you will definitely want to take advantage of. It will also be helpful for students graduating soon who are on the job search.

Sign up today and start exploring!

For more information or questions about the Student Opportunity Center, contact the Office of Undergraduate Research and Scholarship.