When I first started college I was a musician, not an engineer. I had little to no confidence in my ability to succeed within the College of Engineering, and only had applied the year before because my parents made me. It was the summer before junior year when I first began to think that not only could I be an engineer, but that I wanted to be one and it was my junior year when I finally found my home within the College of Engineering. That summer I had my first of three internships with BP America at the Whiting Oil Refinery in Indiana. It was that summer when I saw that there was more engineering than exams and homework sets that take a minimum 10 hours to complete. It was there that I saw that the work I do as engineer does not just effect the people I work or the company’s bottom line, but that it can impact each and every person living in Midwest whether they realize it or not. When I returned to school in the fall I was invited to join the EECS Honor Society HKN and I can easily say that electing was one of the best decisions of my college career. Finally, the engineering campus was no longer just a place I attended lectures awkwardly avoiding eye contact and constantly feeling out of place, it became a second home filled with friends and mentors with whom I didn’t mind pulling an occasional all nighter.
In the past five years I have a lifetimes worth of experiences and opportunities which would have been impossible to obtain anywhere other than the University of Michigan. I have performed in over 25 operas, musicals, plays and short films, served as Treasurer and then President of UMGASS (the oldest student run Gilbert and Sullivan Society in North America), attended the Petroleum and Chemical Industry Conference as a winner of the Myron Zucker Travel Grant, written a 20 page engineering analysis of the mechanical doll Olympia from Offenbach’s opera The Tales of Hoffman, built an audio effects possessor, was a preliminary winner of the School of Music Theatre and Dance’s concerto competition and spoke to over 2,000 children around the state of Michigan about why STEM matters as a local title holder for the Miss America Organization.
I began college unsure of who I was and what I wanted to do with my life and was exceptionally lucky to have grown under the careful guidance of the faculty and staff here at the University of Michigan. While it was never easy, as we begin our careers we have an obligation to the community which fostered our growth. We have an obligation to those who feel that they don’t belong and who don’t believe that they can be successful. Freshman year that was me, that was my story and I fought each and every day to earn my place at the University, just as every other graduate. It is now our turn lead by example, expand beyond what is comfortable and prove to ourselves and to the world around us that we have earned the right to call ourselves Michigan Wolverines.