My name is Aislinn Dresel, and I would like to share my UC Davis experience with you all.
I am a rising senior studying managerial economics, minoring in statistics, and a member of our NCAA Division I women’s swimming and diving team, which has blessed me with an amazing sisterhood of strong, talented women I am proud to compete with and call my best friends.
UC Davis is my second home because the people here are family. This school has presented me with so many opportunities for academic, athletic, and professional growth which would not be possible without the bright and welcoming people that populate our campus. As I embark on my final year as an undergraduate student, I want to share with you all, especially incoming freshmen, lessons I have learned from my three incredible years here.
The beauty of UC Davis being such a prominent research institute is that most of your professors actually use what they teach! Last spring, I took Econometrics with Professor J. Edward Taylor and was nervous going in because of its difficult reputation. What surprised me from the first day and onward was his passion and visible desire for us to understand the material.
It turned out that in the summer after our class, he was heading to Rwanda to measure how Syrian refugees were affecting the country’s economy, using many of the data collection principles he just taught us. What I learned was about to help a society of people, which was a very powerful moment because it helped me value my education on a higher level, and made me think really hard about how I want to use my skills after I graduate to make a serious impact.
UC Davis is a huge campus with an even larger population. Coming from a high school of only 750 that took up one suburban block, I knew I was in for a culture shock. I had to find a way to make a smaller community for myself so I wouldn’t feel lost in the bustle of campus life. Thankfully, my community came from athletics and getting involved in the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee.
SAAC helped me break out of my comfort zone and meet people I normally wouldn’t have. I am able to work with other campus organizations and people from different sports teams to improve the student-athlete experience, and give back to the Davis community. I truly believe that the most important thing you can do freshmen year is to get involved in smaller groups because it is a way to bond with people that share your interests. Whether it is through clubs, intramural sports, Greek life, or volunteering, please sign up for something because in a 500-person lecture hall, it is not easy to know your classmates.
Speaking of 500-person lecture halls, go to office hours and discussion because those opportunities matter! I was struggling in one of my first statistics classes freshman year because I could not understand code, or make it operate the way I wanted to for the life of me. I did not do anything to fix it for the first half of the quarter since it failed to stand out on my to-do list because of my other classes and competition schedule.
Once I finally attended office hours, it took, at most, two minutes to figure out that I had written semicolons instead of commas in every line of code, which the program did not accept.
Please don’t make the same mistake I did! Go to office hours for any uncertainty. Your professors are there because they want to help you, and it is a way to receive quick answers to questions you can’t ask in lecture.
The last, and most important thing I’ve learned while at UC Davis is to have fun.
I know that this is the cheesiest piece of advice I could give you, and your parents probably told you the same thing when you left home, but school is hard! It is so easy to feel crushed under the high standards we set for ourselves. Having a good time with your friends is the best way to break up trips to the library and intense study sessions.
If I wanted to, I could take a day trip to Lake Tahoe or San Francisco, grocery shop at the Davis Farmer’s Market, or enjoy a picnic at the on-campus arboretum. When you are on the brink of graduation, like myself, those are the things you remember, not your perfect paper written for one of your classes.
As I begin my (what I like to call) UC Davis “victory lap,” I cannot help but be thankful for my coaches, professors, and friends that have made my time at college so enjoyable. I will do everything I can to make this year pass by as slow as possible, and I hope you take the time to appreciate everything our campus has to offer as well.
- #GoAgs -