Name: Rachel Gillette
Graduation Year: 2011
Major(s): Politics, African and Afro-American Studies
What activities did you do during your sophomore year?
- Adagio Dance Company
- Hooked on Tap
- Festival of the Arts
- Brandeis for Barack
- Ethics Center Student Worker
- Research Assistant – Sociology Department
How did you navigate decision-making during your sophomore year?
I really utilized my sophomore year advisor in the declaration of my major. Overall, it is important to know that the offices on campus are here for you. Everyone who works at Brandeis wants you to have the best possible experience as a student, so if you need help, ask! I took Fall Semester away at the last minute, and all of the different academic and student offices were very kind and quick about helping me figure out the best course of action. I also worked very closely with the AAAS Department Heads in developing an independent study. If you have an idea of something you want to do, just reach out for assistance; if you are unhappy about any part of your student experience, let people know.
What campus resources did you utilize during your sophomore year?
The first most important thing I learned during my sophomore year is to take advantage of opportunities as they present themselves, whether you planned it or not. I actually took a leave of absence my fall semester because of a job opportunity, and upon my return I took a job as a Program Assistant with Coexistence International at the Ethics Center. Though neither were in my plans, I took a chance and readjusted my schedule. As a result, I have gained invaluable work experience, met some amazing people, learned a lot, and have even surprised myself with how much I can accomplish in one semester! If you get one of those e-mails about an open-call for a job, submissions for papers, or auditions for a show and you have even the slightest interest, go for it - you never know who you’ll meet, what you’ll learn, or how you’ll grow.
Second, I learned to keep my schoolwork in perspective. Though I can credit my ‘real-world job experience’ first semester for some of that, I think most students could step back and take a deep breath. Though education is my highest priority right now, it is important to view college as only one part of my education. I do as best as I possibly can on every paper and test, and beyond that there is no use in worrying or stressing – and it is definitely not worth comparing yourself to your friends (in fact, my friends and I hardly ever share grades). College is an20incredible opportunity: take the time to go to that lecture or club meeting. Trust me, you’ll get your work done. Work hard, manage your time, but also have some fun!
What advice would you give other sophomores?
Really work at building relationships with your professors. What is so great about being at Brandeis is not just the small class sizes and approachability of our professors, but also the real-world experiences that most of our professors have to back up their teaching. If you are interested in learning more about one of your professors, stop by his/her office hours, set up a meeting, or even talk after class. Having a professor on your side makes the stress of college much easier to deal with, and also helps in keeping your schoolwork in perspective with your long-term goals. Plus, when you are looking for internships or jobs they are a great resource!