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Today@Sam Article


Sophomore Biology Major Shares Her 'First-Year Experience'

Aug. 8, 2014
SHSU Media Contact: Jennifer Gauntt

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Tidwell in science lab
Sophomore Danae Tidwell entered SHSU last fall with a concern about how she would adapt to college life, since most of her friends choosing other universities, but by being proactive in the classroom and getting active on campus, Tidwell says she has grown immensely in only one year. Above, she is pictured in her favorite classroom her freshman year, the Anatomy Lab in the Lee Drain Building. —Photos by Brian Blalock


Editor's note: To help welcome incoming students, 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, biology major Danae Tidwell, from Richmond, shares her experiences. You can also read about the experiences of Alexis Johnson, Sydney Strawn and Alfredo Laredo.


Dear Newest Bearkats,

I remember a little more than a year ago, I was thinking about which college I was going to choose out of the list I had been accepted to. I was anticipating graduation, but it was a time of mixed emotions—excitement and fear. I was so nervous to be attending a four-year university. Was I ready? Did I learn the necessary skills, both academic and personal, to be successful? I had heard numerous times I was not prepared for a college, but that was the exact reason I wanted to attend. College is designed to not only teach career-specific material, but a time to develop oneself holistically as we transition into adulthood. I have learned so much about myself since I separated from family and high school friends at SHSU.

Danae TidwellI chose SHSU for many reasons—the campus is gorgeous, it offered the degree plan I needed, and it has a small student-to-teacher ratio. I was so happy at the end of my freshman year that I chose Sam Houston because I was able to get to know the majority of my professors personally, which is very important because you can ask them so many more questions than you could in a class of 800 students. Most of my classes were 20-30 people, and the biggest class I had was 65 people. I would sit in the middle-front of each of my classrooms, if possible, and would actively participate in class discussions. I would never hesitate to ask questions when I felt confused about a subject; I spoke up and learned to be a proactive self-advocate. I had to overcome fear of what other students would think of me, but I ended up making a lot of friends because I was not shy. I would recommend to any incoming student to sit in the middle-front of the classroom because there are minimal distractions and the professor will learn your face. If you have any questions in your class, raise your hand and ask! Do not be scared of what other’s think; you’re paying for an education and you want to have a good GPA coming out of it. Also, remember why you want to attend college—to become a responsible, educated adult who can land a job in competition with other college graduates.

When I decided to attend Sam Houston State University, and I was so overwhelmed because most of my friends were going to A&M or other surrounding universities, so it was frightening that I would not know many at SHSU. I decided to apply to the Bearkat Learning Community so I would have a support system. The application process consisted of an easy essay and application form. The Bearkat Learning community is a freshman-specific community, which gathers all of its members to live on the same floor (for me, it was the fourth floor of Raven Village, which is the nicest dorm on campus) and offers courses that other BLC members take so that you can easily form networks for study groups and friends. I quickly learned the decision I made to join BLC was one of the most rewarding because it taught me study skills, how to interact with professors, and so much more. If you are interested in the Bearkat Learning Community, I would urge you to visit their website. In the BLC, I was surrounded by other academically focused students who pushed me to do the best I could and stay focused on what matters to me. I met so many friends in the program and was welcomed with open arms by Candice Wilson, the BLC coordinator, who also was my professor for my University 1301 course. I had such a blast in University 1301; I learned so much about what Sam Houston had to offer that I would not have learned otherwise. For instance, as a class we visited the library and learned how to do research and participated in many on-campus events. All of the events, social interactions, and study skills I participated in with Bearkat Learning Community taught me so much about myself.

I am majoring in biology, with hopes to become a nurse practitioner. I believe I am on the right track because with the help of the study skills BLC taught me, and hard work, I pulled an all-“A” average my freshman year! I worked very diligently and with the support of the Bearkat Learning Community, I was able to accomplish my goals! I literally did not think it was possible for me because in high school I was an “A”/”B” student who never had an all-“A” semester. The work in college is much more difficult than high school because no one is there to mother you or collect the homework two days after it is due; there are no second chances. Professors will not come up to you if you are not doing the work and ask, “Hey, why aren’t you doing your work? I am going to call your parents if you do not turn it in tomorrow.” Professors will not email you if you haven’t shown up to class; as a matter of fact, they really don’t care what you choose to do with your time. When you go to college, only you are responsible for you—not your parents, not your friends, not your professors. It is a completely different dynamic, but is absolutely very rewarding.

I wish you the best of luck, and Eat ‘Em Up, Kats!

Danae Tidwell





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