the year of two thousand sixteen

spring
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overlooking a quarry in Massachusetts
  • Participated in the LeaderShape Institute, a week-long leadership development and community building retreat that changed my entire outlook on what Boston College could be for me
  • Interned for Date My Wardrobe, which not only taught me about social media marketing and working in a startup, but also introduced me to an amazing mentor, the startup’s founder Amrita Aviyente
  • Explored Rockport, Gloucester, Newport, and Boston with my mom over Easter Break
  • Took two trips to New York, one with a friend to watch Matilda on Broadway and stuff our faces in Chelsea Market, another with my brother and cousins on my birthday to watch Book of Mormon and once again stuff our faces
  • Despite loving General Chemistry, I finally decided to listen to my gut and set science aside in pursuit of an International Studies major with Ethics and International Social Justice track
summer
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sunset in Penang
  • Interned for bonJOY, an ethical subscription box company that features fashion, beauty, and lifestyle goods by companies that support survivors of human trafficking and empower women globally
  • Started a personal website to keep track of my thoughts, readings, and interests (i.e. this)
  • Visited Malaysia for five weeks to spend time with family, with highlights being visiting Bali, eating food in Penang, and attending a Watercolor Brush Calligraphy workshop
fall
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picturesque cows in Vermont
  • Balanced being a Resident Assistant to 27 freshmen women, being The Gavel News Editor with four articles a week, and being employed as LeaderShape On-Site Coordinator
  • Was introduced to and impassioned by the Economy for the Common Good, the notion that all economic activity should fundamentally serve the common good of humanity, society, and the environment
  • Became further immersed in the ethical fashion movement through personal interest colliding with a case study for my Social Movements class—committed to only buying thrifted or ethically-made clothing
  • Saw fall foliage and ate maple creemees in Vermont for the first time with my mom and Godmother
  • Learned tons about Internet History, Social Networking Theory, and Social Media Activism in Online Communication and Global Society, even had Gregg Housh (one of the founders of Anonymous) as a guest speaker
  • Was a sophomore leader for 48HOURS, a freshman-only retreat, and did a polar plunge in Cape Cod
  • Dyed my hair purple

Most importantly, 2016 was the year of developing new connections and deepening existing friendships. I am left with overwhelming gratitude for all the people who have entered my life in the past twelve months, and I can’t wait to see what 2017 has in store for us all.

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10 lessons from my first year at boston college

Gasson_sunset

1. There is more value to a college education than pure academics. As much as I knew that learning in college would transcend the classroom, it was only until second semester that I truly came to value the nonacademic side of a BC education, which involves the Jesuit concept of cura personalis (care for the whole person). It’s being attentive, being reflective, and being loving. Only through nurturing all aspects of my humanity – relational, reflective, physical, emotional – will I practice discernment and remain conscientious about how I choose to live my life. And to anyone who hasn’t been exposed to Catholic or Jesuit education, this all sounds a bit wishy washy, but it’s so rewarding to keep an open mind.

2. Mentors and sponsors are vital. One of my professors said that your primary job in college is to find mentors. I have been fortunate enough to find a few professors this year who I would consider mentors. Whenever I felt overwhelmed or troubled, or even when I simply felt like taking a step back from the business of everyday college life, I would shoot one (or all) of them an email and set up times to meet. Although I would sometimes leave slightly more confused than before, each encounter would challenge me to think more deeply about what I wanted from my four years.

3. It’s okay to not be a STEM major. Coming to accept the notion that I don’t have to be a STEM major in order to be “successful” in life has definitely been a process. Growing up in Silicon Valley, the prominent message is that science, math, and engineering are the most respectable and praise-worthy pursuits. But unless I follow what my gut is telling me to do, I am doing a disservice to everyone including myself.

4. Your first friend won’t likely be your best friend. In the moment, when you just want friends to hang out with, you can confuse a friendship of convenience (by location or necessity) with true friendship. The more common experience is that you begin to find your people after at least a few months, because that is when most people tire of portraying a facade and simply are who they are (or at least that’s what I found to be true).

5. One-on-one friend dates are life. My favorite way to spend time with someone is one-on-one. It likely has to do with quality time being my love language, but I love it when I’m hanging out with a friend and she isn’t checking her phone every five minutes. When you have someone’s full attention and you give someone your full attention in return, conversation flourishes and connections forge.

6. Dating for practice is a potentially great thing. How else do you end up married with children? How else to you figure out what you seek in a relationship? And college is the ideal time to practice: You are in a bubble with people your age who you know through, at most, a couple degrees of separation. It’s not as risky.

7. It’s hard but vital to say no. Extracurricular involvements can become a runaway train unless I learn to say no to things. And it’s tricky because there are so many amazing opportunities out there! But it’s ultimately a matter of priorities and giving myself the freedom to allow the experiences I do say yes to sink in.

8. Planned spontaneity is not that spontaneous. During the school year, I am dependent on my daily planner. The majority of my time is planned out with class, work, or activities. Even my “free time” is planned out. But that’s not spontaneous. And while I’m young and relatively free of responsibility, I can afford to be spontaneous (even if it feels against my nature). So I want to take advantage of unplanned spontaneity while I can.

9. -26°F is pretty very cold. Though this winter was apparently very mild, the one time the weather was ridiculously cold happened to be the night of a ball, so I was in a dress without any tights on at night. Running maybe 30 yards from the hotel to the Uber was the coldest I have ever been. I was running through an ice box. Unpleasant is an understatement.

10. BC is the right fit for me. I spent first semester trying to answer this question: Am I happy at BC? And I feel so fortunate to have discovered that the answer is yes. It took a catalytic experience like LeaderShape (a week-long leadership and community building retreat) for me to realize how many amazing people are at BC. It might not be the most academically prestigious school, but like I said in my first point, BC for me is more about all the other “stuff”. It’s about the relationships. It’s about the mentorship. It’s about the vocational discernment. It’s about Boston. It’s about the opportunities. And it’s about the people.

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