Entering my freshman year at Oklahoma State University, I knew one thing was certain: I would try to excel in everything I participated in. Well that’s a nice dream and all, but reality has to kick in at some point. Reality kicked in for me when I realized I had spread myself way too thin and no longer had time to adequately study. I imagine that this is a struggle that many Point Scholars have faced their freshman year. We’re all overachievers by nature, and part of being an overachiever is realizing that you can’t do everything that you want all at once. I learned this lesson the hard way: but back to that in a moment.
Most people who know me think that I’m completely sold on the idea of becoming a scientist and that I’ve never wavered on this plan. The truth is I set foot on campus with an undecided mind – I was stuck between my original plan, to become a scientist, and becoming a civil rights attorney. So, I set out to get involved in both politics/law and research so I could see which one I like better, if I liked either at all. Oklahoma State University has a Supreme Court run by the Student Government Association that actually enacts change on campus, so I thought that if I wanted to make OSU a more inclusive place for LGBT students, the Supreme Court would be a good place to start.
I was selected for Freshman Representative Council, but I quickly realized that politics wasn’t for me. However, I was one of the only non-Greek students (the tension between fraternities/sororities and other students is quite prevalent at OSU) chosen for FRC, so I felt that it was my duty to not give up. The decision to resign from FRC came when I saw my midterms and found out that I had a C in chemistry, and more so when I was offered a research opportunity in a biosafety level 3 laboratory, but was later told I didn’t have room in my schedule for it. FRC required 10 plus hours every week that I just didn’t have.
I don’t regret spreading myself too thin, as it was an opportunity to find where my priorities lie, the limits of my reach, and it solidified my interest in scientific research. After resigning from the Freshman Representative Council, I was able to throw myself wholly into my research and classes and I have been rewarded greatly for it.
My current research project has identified possibly 30 new halophilic bacterial strains from the Great Salt Plains of Oklahoma and we’re beginning to work with animal microflora in search for new animal-specific bacteria. Although the significance of these findings will not be immediately evident, the researchers who found the bacterium responsible for powering batteries, restoring destroyed ecosystems, and creating biofuels also had no idea what they had on their hands. Our research is now moving towards answering the question, “What percentage of microbes are unculturable instead of unknown?” Oh, and that C in chemistry? Ever since I rearranged my priorities, I’ve been able to bring my grade up to a high B. My test scores now read as, in order, 32, 64, and 89.
So the moral of my freshman year is that dabbling in new interests is fine, but letting yourself become overwhelmed with responsibilities is not. Also just a bit of advice for anyone who got their first test grade back and was in immediate disbelief that it was possible for anyone to do that poorly – take a deep breath, make practice tests, and don’t give up! Showing improvement in a challenging course is definitely notable.
This post was written by Point Scholar Jodan “Jay” Moore
Jordan “Jay” Moore grew up in Houston, Texas in a very culturally and ideologically diverse school and community. It wasn’t until late in middle school that she found out that being called gay was considered derogatory to some people. The privilege she enjoyed living in a progressive community ended when she moved to Tahlequah, Oklahoma, during her junior year of high school. Jay immediately witnessed the effects of widespread racism, sexism, and homophobia on her fellow minority students. Instead of letting her experiences get her down, she channeled her frustration into changing the system.
Read more about Jay.