Relaxing in Arizona for Spring Break

By Maria S., ’26, B.S. in Biomedical Sciences student

A college student in snowboarding gear posing with their board at the bottom of a snowy slope.

Taking a break from university life and exams is refreshing every once in a while. This spring break, a step into nature was necessary, so I traveled with friends to Arizona for snowboarding and visiting the Grand Canyon. 

The week started with a 16-hour road trip, most of those spent crossing Texas. As soon as we entered New Mexico, the landscape changed to hills and gorgeous views. My favorite car activities for entertaining myself during the trip were singing throwback songs, listening to podcasts, talking with my friends, and enjoying the views.

Snowboarding At Arizona Snowbowl

At last, we entered Arizona, which was a spectacular moment since we drove on the historic Route 66! It was amazing to feel like I was immersed in the Cars movie. 

When we arrived at the house we were staying in, we only had two things on our agenda — renting the snowboarding gear and preparing for our hike in the Grand Canyon.

All my life I have been a skier, but on this trip, I wanted to try something new — snowboarding. I was very nervous, but I decided to give it a try since all of my friends do snowboarding.

On Wednesday morning, the excitement was unstoppable! We woke up early, grabbed our gear, and headed up to Arizona Snowbowl on Mount Humphreys. However, we were a little concerned about the snow conditions, as we did not see any snow until we were 5 minutes away from the base of the ski resort. The view was breathtaking.

I took classes to learn how to snowboard for the first time, and after many, many falls, I finally got the hang of it at the end of the day! I was extremely happy because it meant that I would be able to join my friends in the mountains. 

A group of twelve college students in winter clothes posing in front of the Grand Canyon.

Visiting The Grand Canyon

On Thursday, to take a break from snowboarding, we decided to go hiking in the Grand Canyon. I had been there when I was very young, so I barely remembered how incredible the view was.

In all honesty, I feel like this side visit was the best part of the whole trip. You truly don’t believe your eyes and can’t wrap your head around how beautiful the Grand Canyon is. The pictures don’t do it any justice compared to its beauty in person.

Standing there in front of the canyon, I realized why it is one of the natural wonders of the world, especially after learning its history and how it was formed. If you ever have the opportunity to visit, even if it’s only for a couple of hours, GO! You won’t regret it.

For the next couple of days, we continued to head up the mountain and enjoy snowboarding. Any sport involving the snow is so refreshing. They are always a blast because it makes you feel so alive, so I am very glad to have tried snowboarding on this trip.

Seven college students in snowboarding gear standing in front of a snowy slope with pine trees.

Making The Most Of My Break

Although my body ached at the end of each day, it was so much fun to experience going with all of my friends. I still don’t know what I prefer between skiing and snowboarding, but I will say this — if you are looking for thrill and speed, go skiing; however, if you are looking to enjoy the mountain and surf the snow, then snowboarding is for you.

This spring break was unforgettable. I got to relax from my everyday life and enjoy a week filled with adventure, joy, laughter, and memories with the people I love. Now, more than ever, I am ready to crush the end of the semester and feel motivated for the rest of the year!

Reading To Avoid Burnout From College

By Agnes R. ’26, B.S. in Biomedical Sciences student

Whether you are an undergraduate student on a pre-veterinary track or are already a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM) student, you probably have a huge amount of coursework that must also be balanced with other involvements. This may make you feel very overwhelmed and stressed. However, I find that reading is an excellent way to clear your mind, avoid burnout, and allow yourself to breath for more than five minutes. Below are the three latest books I read, which I highly recommend reading!

The Jungle cover

The Jungle By Upton Sinclair

This novel was originally published in 1905 and tells the story of Yurgis, a Lithuanian immigrant, and his family as they arrive in the meatpacking industry of Chicago around the 1920s. At the beginning, you can feel the excitement of the characters. The family later faces hardships, but Yurgis keeps working as hard as he can to give his family the “American Dream.”

I really enjoyed this book because of how full of emotion it is. The readers were actually so appalled in the early 1900s by the descriptions of the meat packing industry in this book that it led to the creation of the FDA and many of the food safety laws we now have in the United States. I could hardly put this book down, and I hope neither will you, as it immerses you in the difficult world that was the 1920s.

A Little Life cover

A Little Life By Hanya Yanagihara

This 2015 novel follows the story of a group of four friends through college and their professional lives, but especially Jude’s, the quieter and shyer friend. We slowly get insight into his absolutely devastating past as he tries to adjust to both his life in college and his life at work. There is no romanticizing this book; whenever you think Jude and his friends have gotten a break, the other shoe drops.

This book really makes you think about your own life, and slowly breaks your heart. Out of the three recommendations, I believe this one to be the hardest book to read, but that does not make it any less worth it. This book captivated me and to this day, I still love all the characters I got to know through this novel.

Everything I Know About Love cover

Everything I Know About Love By Dolly Alderton

This memoir published in 2018 follows the author’s life as she went through different relationships in her 20s. We get insights into all her love interests as well as her love for her best friend, Farly. As the book goes on, Dolly’s knowledge about love and about herself changes. Between chapters of personal change, you can also find mac and cheese recipes and sayings that Dolly hates!

This book truly is a rollercoaster but is also such an easy and quick read. It makes you think while still giving your mind a much-needed break. I loved this book and highly recommend it to anyone going through new experiences.

I couldn’t recommend these books more. While they sound very different, each one immerses you into the life of a group of remarkable people. Between my class work, volunteering, job shadowing, and other activities, reading has felt like an oasis in the middle of such a stressful life. I hope these recommendations make you want to start reading and create a break in your very full schedule. Avoid burnout by finding peace in reading!

Look on the Bright Side

Stay positive. Eleanor Roosevelt once said, “With the new day, comes new strength and new thoughts.” The hot topic of the day is COVID-19, and with a national social distancing policy and a Texas state shelter-in-place occurring, Americans are staying indoors and, predominantly, at home.

Staying home can get very boring, very quickly, but one thing that I do is try to stay positive in light of this all. My key motivations during my last semester of senior year are staying active, keeping connections, and de-stressing.

During this season of quarantine, being active has helped keep me from eating an entire
tub of ice cream in the freezer. Working out helps me to feel productive and start off my day in a great mood. When COVID-19 is over (whenever that may be), I want to feel good about myself. I don’t want to gain a “COVID 19 pounds” during this time. I want to LOSE those 19 pounds.

Each evening, I take my dog out for a jog around the neighborhood. Every day is ab day, and one of the best things about this alone time is the freedom to reflect on the day. Though times are tough, my goal is to use this to my advantage and stay in shape in order to better my physical and mental health.

As a senior, I have made lots of new friends from both my undergraduate courses and from working at the Veterinary School. Another goal of mine is to stay in contact with those friends, despite the social distance policy, through virtual connections. With technology today, I can easily make a video call to anyone in any location through simple apps like Zoom, Skype, and Facetime (to name a few).

The people I have met from working as a BIMS Ambassador has given me lifelong friends. I work hard to stay in touch with those friends that are now either in their 4th year of Veterinary School or are already practicing veterinarians! Catching up with old and new friends during this time of quarantine is the best time to make time.

Lastly, I feel SO refreshed with all of my courses being online now. Not only do I have time to focus on my physical and mental wellbeing, but I also have free time to de-stress. During
Zoom online course lectures, I can pace myself through the recorded lectures. I am given the opportunity to be comfortable from my own home while watching a lecture on equine nutrition.

Organizations have cancelled their meetings and requirements, and my work and research are changing their hours to become more flexible for students that are still in College Station. With online courses, I am given an opportunity to focus on myself. I can study for the GRE, prepare for vet school applications for this coming cycle, learn a new skill, and even cook a recipe I have never had the time to make.

Although I did not know that March 6, 2020 would be my very last in-person lecture for my undergraduate years of college, I am thankful for the new doors of opportunity that have opened before me.

I get to bond with my dog that usually had to stay home alone for almost 12 hours at a time during the school year. I have the time to reconnect with old and new friends, as well as check in with family, from a distance and on a more flexible schedule. And I am way less stressed with courses online and organizational commitments canceled (don’t get me wrong. I love all of the organizations that I am in). All in all, I am looking on the bright side of this, as I am currently healthy and happier now.

A Lesson in Adaptation

There is an overarching topic that is seemingly inescapable in our world today. COVID-19 and its many implications are constantly brought to mind whether I am watching the news, talking with my parents, or browsing the almost empty grocery aisles. This is a very uncertain time.

Throughout this season it has been easy to slip into a negative mindset, focused on the things I am missing during my last semester of college and the current state of our world.

However, I am realizing throughout all the events out of my control I still have a choice. How will I respond?

First, I am making the choice to remain positive and use this season to challenge my ability to practice mental toughness. I am learning to release control and adapt to unique circumstances.
Although I typically thrive on structure and planning, this is a learning experience where I get to adapt to a season of constant change.

The extra week off for Spring Break has allowed me to spend quality time with my family. I have played with my little cousins, baked bread with my mom, and spent hours outside enjoying the beautiful weather with my dogs.

As a family, we are brainstorming ways to serve our community during this time that is affecting so many. There are many amazing organizations that are working very hard to provide for families who are hurting due to the current environment. I am hoping to play a small part in helping support these families.

As my classes shift to an online format next week, I am choosing to be flexible. I’m not sure what the remainder of the semester is going to look like academically, but I am ready to continue
expanding my knowledge in a new way.

It will be a challenge to learn from a distance without the comradery of peers and interaction with professors, but I am looking forward to growing from this experience. I know I am not alone in being nervous about the shift in class structure. Friends and even professors have expressed their worries, but we are a community of Aggies who are strong and resilient. I am confident that we will support each other throughout this change.

Reflecting on my college experience as a whole, I am incredibly thankful. I am thankful for my time as a BIMS ambassador where I got to represent this amazing college. I am thankful for the amazing professors I have encountered in my classes. I am thankful for my wonderful friends I have met along my journey. I am thankful for my family who has encouraged and supported me through the ups and downs. Finally, I am thankful for Texas A&M for providing me with so much more than a good education.

The Greatest Aggie Symbol

As I am coming to the end of my junior year here at Texas A&M, I am looking forward to one time-honored tradition—getting my Aggie ring!

Over winter break, I got the email I had been waiting for notifying me to check to see if I was eligible to order my ring. Of course, I already knew that after the fall semester ended that I had taken more than 90 hours of classes, which meant I did meet the requirement.

So, I set up an appointment to go in person to get sized and, of course, to take my picture in front of the ring statue with the chalkboard sign—another Aggie tradition!

It was a surreal moment that the day had already arrived and it made me realize how fast my time at Texas A&M has gone by.

Now I am in a suspenseful wait, anticipating the day in April that I will get to receive the ring!

I am excited that my family is coming on Ring Day to help me celebrate my big achievement with me.

The ring itself holds a lot of symbolism.

Every element on the ring has a meaning and even the direction you wear the ring does, too—when you receive your ring, you wear it with the class year facing you to symbolize that your time at Texas A&M is not yet finished; during graduation, a ceremony is led in which you turn the ring around, signifying that you are going out into the world as an Aggie.

The Aggie ring is a great way to recognize fellow Aggies anywhere in the world. When a fellow ambassador and I went abroad last summer, we were recognized as Aggies at an airport in London because of her ring!

The Aggie ring is such an amazing way to unite fellow Aggies and the tradition is one of my favorite at Texas A&M!

Making an Impact

Coming into my fourth semester as an undergraduate student here at Texas A&M, lots of things are changing!

This semester, I became a junior (in my sophomore year; early graduation here I come!), so I have my eyes on that Aggie bling soon.

As of this semester, I actually have a tour shift in my job as an ambassador, meaning that I get the opportunity to lead more tours and show alumni, prospective students, and visitors the beautiful College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences here at Texas A&M.

Being able to meet such a diverse pool of people is such a rewarding aspect of my job!

My favorite types of tours are those given to high schoolers. I find it easy to communicate with younger students and I connect a little more easily with them. We can always laugh and have a good time.

I love the thought that one day, my words may bring them to be one of our newest, loudest, and proudest Aggies!

I also got some exciting news this month.

Last May, I traveled to Australia for a vacation, and we went to Bondi Beach. While there, my mom and I just happened to notice a poster advertising an opportunity to model in a photoshoot empowering women.

On a whim, I decided that it would be such an amazing opportunity, and we took a couple of hours out of our vacation to do it. Those photos are being put into a book called “This Is Me,” which comes out next month in Australia.

As a promotion for the book, Marie Claire magazine AU chose 12 photos out of hundreds to be in their editorial and they picked mine!

My photo and words get to be shown to people all across Australia and the United States, and I can’t help but be so delighted about the way I can help other people through my story.

The Finish Line

With about three and three-quarters years of my undergraduate education completed, the countdown to graduation has begun. If all goes according to plan, I will be walking across the stage to receive my degree in early May.

Looking back on my time at Texas A&M, I am grateful for the opportunities provided by the hardworking professors, faculty, and staff. Everyone devoted their efforts to create an environment conducive to knowledge and growth. The professors never failed to show their dedication to a student’s success, going above and beyond the classroom.

The student body of Texas A&M continuously demonstrates what it means to be an Aggie. For most, college is the first time on one’s own, but hardly any make it through their four years alone.

The numerous and diverse student body allows anyone to find their group, a place to belong, and people to lean on. Events like Silver Taps or Aggie Muster show that regardless of your individual involvement, a student’s impact reaches far beyond their inner circle.

As I prepare to leave Texas A&M, I return to where I started. I will move from something I worked hard to know and step forward into another unknown adventure with only a vague sense of a plan.

The coming future is another “if it all goes to plan.” I will be taking a gap year to work on my medical school application and gain more research and medical experiences.

I will move home and return to life under my parents’ roof. I am excited to no longer have to grocery shop for myself, but I think being back will motivate me to succeed.

No matter what is to come, the only sure thing is, I will not stop working toward my dream of being a physician.

But before I get ahead of myself, I need to make sure I graduate, so I’m going to get back to studying for physiology.

I will see you in May, at the finish line.

Feeling the Pressure

The beginning of a new year brings the excitement and anticipation of a fresh start—the opportunity to reinvent oneself with new beginnings, goals, and resolutions. For students, a new year means a new semester.

The spring, however, along with its showers and blossoms, brings with it the pressure of planning.

Although winter break gave me the opportunity to refresh and renew myself, the second semester of my junior year is all about planning and preparing for my future.

I hope to attend pharmacy school beginning the fall of 2021, which means my agenda, as you can imagine, looks quite intimidating upon first glance.

In two weeks, I will be taking the Pharmacy Technician Certification Test, which will help me gain experience in the pharmaceutical field as a technician. Then, this summer, I will be taking the PCAT, which is the Pharmacy College Admissions Test, and applying to my dream pharmacy school—the University of Texas at El Paso School of Pharmacy!

Right now, my days (and nights) look pretty much the same: study, eat, sleep, and repeat!

On top of all of the studying I do, I am a member of the Pre-Pharmacy Society, which means I have to think about my school assignments, exams, and events while also preparing for my tech and PCAT exams—a pretty stressful combination, if you ask me!

My vision of the future, however, is what motivates me each and every day.

I recently ordered my Aggie ring, which was quite an emotional day for me because it represented everything I hope to achieve and everything I’ve accomplished thus far.

No matter how hard a situation might seem or feel at first, I have learned that every cloud has its silver lining.

I have found myself overthinking and, at times, doubting myself, in many situations.

Sometimes it is easier to focus on how difficult a task may seem and we don’t ever give ourselves the opportunity to overcome our obstacles or even give ourselves a chance.

If there is one piece of advice I can offer a friend, a family member, or a fellow stressed student, it is to focus on your present and your reality, not the negativities or the “what ifs.”

At the end of the day, you are your No. 1 supporter!

One of my favorite things I’ve learned through my college experience has been that affirmations and positive thinking are more powerful than you might think!

We can do this!

Davy, Inspiration and Service Dog in Training

As a biomedical sciences student (BIMS), I have become active in organization that sparked my interest for a long time—Patriot Paws of Aggieland, the College Station branch of an group whose mission is “serving those who have served” by training and providing “service dogs of the highest quality at no cost to disabled American veterans and others with mobile disabilities and post-traumatic stress disorder.”

I have always wanted to join an organization that has to do with animals and, more specifically, training and raising animals for a good cause.

Patriot Paws is one of my favorite organizations because their mission appeals the most to me. However, because of my schedule and limits with transportation, I could not join the organization until my junior year of college.

In the fall, I went through the entire training for the whole semester to become a puppy raiser. And, now, here I am, qualified as a puppy raiser.

As a puppy raiser, I was partnered with two other puppy raisers, and we all share the responsibilities of housing, taking care, and building on the training foundation of that puppy.

Our first assigned service-dog-in-training is a puppy named Davy, an adorable and intelligent 3-month-old Labrador Retriever.

Currently, my partners and I are focusing mostly on Davy’s behaviors at home and playtime, as well as working on simple cues such as “sit,” “down,” “touch,” and “leave it.” He learns very quickly; I was actually able to teach him three cues in two days!

Sometimes, it is very amusing to see how he tries to fix his mistakes. Whenever he realizes that he did something wrong—often when he gets really excited—he backs up, sits down, stares at me, and then looks back and forth to see what he can do to make up for it.

It melts my heart every single time because I know he is just a baby who is constantly trying to please me.

As I have been trained, every time that happens, I immediately redirect him and give him a cue that he was supposed to do, and if he does it right, I will give him a treat.

Working with him makes me feel like a proud mom! He amazes me so much by how fast he is catching up and learning new things. We also are trying to work on his biting habit that results from his teething; he is getting better at it, which I am very happy about.

Working with other raisers and being a part of Patriot Paws have taught me so much as a pre-veterinary student.

I have become so much more organized and better at time management. I am also consistently improving my communication skills as I work with my partners and our trainer every week to make sure that Davy is getting all of the training and care that he needs.

Another thing I have seen is an increase in my confidence; thanks to the way Patriot Paws operates and the strong connection among members, I now feel so much more confidence knowing that they will always be willing to help me. Additionally, I have learned to be more patient and dedicated during this experience.

Raising and training a puppy for Patriot Paws makes me feel great, not only because it is for a great cause but it also gives me a new spark of happiness in my life.

When he is not working, Davy always has a blast playing with my roommates and me, and we also enjoy playing with him because it is very fun and helps us to destress from school work.

Patriot Paws is not only a good experience for a pre-vet student but also a person who loves animals and wants to get more involved like I did.

I am very grateful to have an opportunity to work with this amazing team and incredible dogs, and I am looking forward to learning more from the others and the dogs, as well as to see the dogs grow.

Last but not least, I am definitely looking forward to the day these amazing dogs graduate and get matched with their veterans!

Keeping Perspective for the Spring

Being a biomedical sciences (BIMS) major, it is fair to say that most of us want to eventually go to professional school.

Most schools take holistic approaches in evaluating their students, so we applicants try to make ourselves as well-rounded as possible. As much as we don’t like to admit it, this leads to a certain amount of competitiveness between us.

Shadowing, volunteering, working, or research—these are all experiences that we all try to stack up. And I find myself comparing what I’ve been doing to what my peers are doing: She’s volunteering at St. Joseph’s Hospital and doing research! He’s shadowing in the operating room over winter break! These thoughts constantly pop up.

Last semester, I worked two part-time jobs, one as a lab assistant in Texas A&M’s health and kinesiology department and the other here as a BIMS Ambassador.

Academically, I was also taking “Organic Chemistry” and “General Biology II,” along with six other credits, while doing research as part of the Biomedical Research Certificate Program.

Time management skills were crucial. I learned the hard way that studying ahead of time was the only way for me to be successful in really understanding the material from my classes for exams.

I learned to take deep breaths and pace myself when things seemed overwhelming and like they weren’t accomplishable.

I have learned to accept that I am already trying my best and doing what I can as an applicant. Comparing and worrying will do me no good, thus my goal for this semester is to start out with a different mindset.

Everyone is striving to reach their own goals and working hard for themselves, but we can all be in it together and help each other get through the rough times.

I can already feel a portion of the weight that has been on my shoulders lift with this change of perspective of things!