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Alumni Spotlight: Michelle Nguyen

Michelle Nguyen, attending the University of California, Irvine just wrapped up her first year in college! Read more on Michelle’s best practices while in college and how she’s kicking off her summer! 

What obstacles and/or hardships did you overcome in college?

How to still be productive now that I no longer have a fixed schedule. I create my own fixed schedule and it differs each day. If I have classes in the afternoon, I wake up early to do homework. I schedule meetings and classes in my calendar, and I make my due dates 2 days earlier. I set alarms throughout the day to remind myself to do certain things (ex: 5:20PM “Your enrollment window opens in 10 minutes”)

How to not be lonely/make friends. It’s crazy that in a place filled with so many people, there are so many people that are lonely. My best advice for making friends is to join orgs/clubs, make study groups, if you dorm, stay the weekends, and put yourself out there, now that you’re in college, you don’t become friends with people only because you’ve been in the same class with them for years, now, if you want to be friends with someone, just invite them to lunch. In a way, college really tests your social skills, but the outgoing people shouldn’t be the only one thriving, really tell yourself that you should stand these next few minutes of possible social rejection, in order to find people who will keep your company for the rest of your time there. 

How did you find a balance between academics, extracurriculars, college applications, and being successful?

Have a very specific time schedule for your day and split up your work into small tasks. On some days, I had classes 8AM-1:30 PM, Sports Practice 1:30-5:00PM, and Reality Changers 5:00-7:00PM. I made sure to make use of my free time. I did homework in the first 10 minutes of all my classes because the teachers always took 5-10 minutes to prepare for the class. I did my college applications during my college prep program. When I got home, I would study for tests.

Looking back on your senior year of high school, what would you tell your younger self?

Don’t stay in extracurriculars for a long time just because you think that it would look good for college applications. It’s better to do less extracurriculars where you are actively participating (part of the leadership) and that you are passionate about, because those end up being your personal statements (and your most fond high school memories). 

Take time for your family and friends, there’s no point working so hard for a good future only for yourself. If you want to be financially successful to take care of your family, you shouldn’t go m.i.a on them along the way. 

Don’t tolerate people who don’t want you in their lives. It gets old quickly, if they don’t want your company, you don’t need their presence. You’ll know who cares about you, and if you don’t, you’ll be confused. 

For other students looking up to you, what action steps would you encourage students to take over the summer to prepare for their next year of high school and/or first year of college?

Get a job: you’re going to be bored during the summer anyways, but it’s better to be bored with money in the bank. 

Join the summer sessions for incoming freshmen at your college, you get really close to people and it’s a good introduction to college. 

Spend a lot of time with your friends and family, you’ll miss them more than ever when you’re in college. 

Work out: 24 hour fitness gives you a free summer gym membership if you’re under 18 (don’t quote me on this, this is just what happened for my local 24 hour gym). 

Explore your current city, even if it’s just going to your local fast food joint and trying a new item, you don’t need to go far to explore

How are you flexing your summer state of mind and staying proactive this summer? (i.e exercising, working, reading, journaling, meditating)

Reviewing/learning Spanish and Vietnamese on Duolingo, learning sign language, reading, hiking, swimming. 

Katie Craig

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