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Viking Reflection: What I'd Tell my First-Year Self

Laurie Rodriguez, Class of 2021

Laurie Rodriguez of Lynn, MA completed her BS in media and communications with a minor in psychology last May. We asked Laurie, a summer intern in the public relations office, to reflect on her time at Salem State and what she'd tell her first-year self.

As four years of college recently ended for me this past May, I find myself reflecting on my time at Salem State University a lot. As a full-time commuter student also working 25-35 hours each week, it’s safe to say that my college experience was quite hectic. My academic achievements during all this are something I’m proud of, but of course, college isn’t only about academics.

Say "Yes" and Step Out of Your Comfort Zone

One thing I didn’t focus on much during my time at Salem State that I wish I had was on the social aspects of college. This is a time where you should be saying ‘yes’ more than ‘no’, especially if saying yes means you’re going to do something that gets you out of your comfort zone. Stay after class to speak to your professor more, create study groups with classmates, and absolutely join clubs related to your major or interests.

As cliché as this sounds, college truly is a time where you find your identity and begin to realize your place in this world, and the way to do this is by talking to new people and doing things you normally would never do. Stimulate yourself socially, don’t just run out of campus after your last class of the day ends. There are so many resources to find clubs and events on campus, whether that be through the Salem State website, classmates, emails, professor recommendations, or even flyers hanging around campus!

Engage Outside of Class

I urge any incoming or current students at Salem State to prioritize at least 1 to 2 days during the week where they either attend club meetings, go to one of their professor’s office hours, or arrange study dates with classmates at Berry Library. A priority for any college student should also be the formation of social relationships and exploring everything your campus has to offer for you. Thankfully, Salem State’s email communications are an excellent resource for finding events or clubs that may interest you. I came across many of these myself, but I never took the action to attend them due to typical excuses of tiredness or too much schoolwork. This may be something other commuter students may come across, but believe me when I say it will be worth it if you set time apart to stay longer on campus and explore.

Don't Hesitate to Ask for Help

I’ve come to realize now that my best memories from college are from moments I said ‘yes’ to something I typically would’ve said ‘no’ to. Talking to my professors outside of class also brought about insightful conversations and advice that I am thinking about to this day as I currently apply to jobs, so speak to them. They are a wealth of knowledge and resources. If you need to find an internship or want to find a job and don’t know where to start, don’t be afraid to ask for help and send that email to someone you don’t think would even respond. You may be surprised about the amazing opportunities that present themselves to you if you just decide to step out of your comfort zone.

So, to the class of 2025, be social, bold and proactive during your college years. I wish anyone that’s reading this the best of luck in this exciting chapter of their life.

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