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Sophomore Education Major Shares Her 'First-Year Experience'

June 26, 2014
SHSU Media Contact: Jennifer Gauntt

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Sydney Strawn
During her freshman year at SHSU, sophomore Sydney Strawn learned how to navigate dorm life, found a Christian-centered student organization and secured an on-campus job, all while maintaining a high GPA. Above, Strawn hangs out in her dorm room in Elliott Hall. —Photos by Brian Blalock


Editor's note: To help welcome incoming students who will be visiting campus for orientation this summer, the First-Year Experience Office asked four now-sophomores to write letters sharing some of the things they learned during their first year at SHSU and offering advice to SHSU's newest crop of freshmen. Below, education major Sydney Strawn, from Rowlett, shares her experiences.


Dear Future Bearkats,

College was a time for me to completely start over. Going to a college three hours away from home, where I knew completely no one, was terrifyingly exciting. I was ecstatic to begin pursuing higher education, and I desired to do it here at Sam Houston.

Move-in day was chaotic, as moving usually is, along with hot and tiring. A lot of my family traveled down with my mom, sister, and me to help me unpack my dorm room, though I did most of the unpacking, being the organized freak that I am. Everybody had their predispositions about dorm life, but looking back, I can honestly say dorm life is not that bad, and it’s better than nothing. I brought pieces of home with me to decorate my room, and by the time I was done, my dorm felt like my home-away-from-home.

My freshman year was full of new friends, adventures and a new identity. I had come to college with two goals in mind, and no one was getting in the way of me pursuing them. The first goal was to keep pursuing a relationship with God, and the second was to get a job. God came first, of course, and this is how I was able to find a God-centric community on campus: I went to my first college football game with my roommate and suitemate, and while we were there I met my future small group leader. Her name was Joshalyn and, gradually, through the year, she became one of my best friends. By the end of the game we had exchanged numbers, and by the end of the next week, I had joined her small group and was in Chi Alpha, already acquiring some friends that would have a tremendous effect on me throughout the year. Chi Alpha is a huge Christian organization on campus, and through Chi Alpha, I have grown closer to God in more ways than I ever imagined. I have met some wonderful people who genuinely love God and seek to spread his word. I am so grateful that I decided to go to that game because it led me to people who accepted me the way I am. This just goes to show that one decision can set your life down a path of growth and confidence.

Sydney StrawnWhile finding a Christian organization was easy, searching for a job was not. I was searching for my first-ever real job, and I was both excited and scared to take this step. Being an education major, I was hoping to get a job in the College of Education, but that did not work out. By the end of September, with the help of Jobs4Kats, which can be found on our school’s Career Services website, I had applied for more than seven jobs with no reply from any of them. As October arrived, I was beginning to lose hope. Anticipation was getting the best of me, and right when I was about to give up, I received an email that changed everything. I was contacted by the math and statistics department for a student assistant job. It was through work-study, as well, which is what my mom had hoped for, and by the second week of October, I had started my job. I have very considerate bosses who care for my well-being and are great to work with, and I love working there. When I first started, it was simply answering phones and asking a lot of questions, because I did not understand how everything worked in the department, but as the semester progressed, I gained a better understanding of the job and grew confident while working there. On-campus jobs are great because the bosses understand that education comes first; they take into consideration that you are here for higher education while you work. Seeing that the two things I came to college seeking for were fulfilled, I feel blessed to have experienced those new things here at Sam.

One thing that I accomplished this year that I am very proud of is my 4.0 GPA. My GPA allowed me to be accepted into the Alpha Lambda Delta honor society and put me in the top 20 percent of my class. Now, one myth people tend to spread about college is that classes are 10 times harder than they were in high school. In my opinion, though, that is not true; it can be true if you slack off too much, but as long as you do your work, read the textbook, and participate in class while interacting with other students, you should have no problem passing classes. Just continually study, whether alone or with a group of friends, and do not be afraid to seek the professor for help. While seeking help from friends or a professor can be helpful, Sam Houston also offers additional help at the Reading, Writing and Math centers. These are great resources that are available to students here who are struggling, or just need another opinion.

I worked hard filling out numerous scholarships my senior year to get here, and now that my freshman year is over, I can reflect and see how much I have changed. College led to independence. I stepped out of my shell more and accomplished things I never imagined having to face. Sam Houston is a great campus with many opportunities for students to get involved and I greatly advise that you do. Come to college with an open mind and do things that you have never done before, challenging yourself, and take time discover where your place is on this campus. Embark on this journey being true to yourself, and remember, “The measure of a Life is its Service.”


Sydney Strawn




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