Today@Sam Article

Poli Sci Major Shares 'First-Year' Experiences Filled With Interaction, Discovery

July 8, 2016
SHSU Media Contact: Jennifer Gauntt

Editor's note: Every summer, sophomores share some of their experiences and offer advice to SHSU's newest cohort of freshmen. In his “First-Year Series” piece, Brian Aldaco, a political science major from Willis, shares how his decision to be proactive in his education has led him to experiences that will shape his career. You also can read about Destiny Caldwell’s experience here and Mara Barnette’s here

Brian Aldaco
Brian Aldaco's his first year at SHSU was one of self-discovery as he interacted with faculty and engaged with the LEAP Center, with which he was able to develop his interest and passion for political science. —Photo by Brian Blalock

Dear newest Bearkats,

During my last year in high school, the prospect of graduating and going to college was frightful. I was fearful of my ambiguous future and whether the decisions I would make were the right ones.

Of these decisions, what most frightening me was choosing the “correct” college. My ultimate commitment to Sam Houston State University was based on the unanticipated good advice from an old, cross-country friend. We ran into each other unexpectedly one day and he asked me about what college I was planning to attend. When I answered how uncertain I was, he told me, “Talk to (political science) Professor (Mike) Yawn; it will be the best appointment you’ll ever make.” I took his advice and arranged a meeting.

On a mid-May afternoon, I followed the GPS directions while disorientedly driving up I-45. Upon arrival to campus, I naively parked on the first open parking spot I could find, disregarding the parking regalements and the consequences of not having a parking permit. My legs shook as I climbed down from my dad’s truck (I did not have a car of my own) and with a strained gaze fixed on a digital campus map from my cell phone, I found my way up the College of Humanities and Social Sciences Building to enter Professor Yawn’s office.

Being introduced to a college is often communicated through the bric-a-brac of flyers, pamphlets, commercials, billboards, etc., that give you an intangible notion of the college experience. To get a real sense of a higher education institution, I now know that interacting with its environment and discovering what the institution can offer is crucial. Having this preliminary advising experience introduced me to aspects of Sam Houston State that complemented my personal interests. After my first advising session, it became clear that I wanted to become a Bearkat. I became a member of the SHSU community as a student of a first-year learning group, and I made it my priority to use the resources provided to me as means to discover my true passion.

Without that initial advising appointment, I would have never discovered the pre-law cohort or the Center for Law Engagement and Politics. The pre-law cohort, along with stimulating course work taught by a very experienced and wise instructor, contributed to this journey of self-discovery. Furthermore, being introduced to LEAP—a center dedicated to enriching students’ education through opportunities such as field trips, guest lectures, and volunteer opportunities—gave me the opportunity to act upon the interests I was passionate for. Now as a LEAP ambassador, I am able to work with the community, practice good public service, and learn from the experiences of various accomplished public officials.

Taking advantages of the opportunities presented to me during my first year at SHSU has offered me knowledge that transcends a classroom setting. Through my internship in the City of Huntsville, I was able to experience local governmental functions first hand. In addition, my participation in the Undergraduate Research Symposium gave me the chance to professionally present an academic paper for the first time.

Of course, all of this would not have been possible had I not taken that first step in the summer before high school graduation and taken the initiative to set up the framework for my first-year-in-college success. I had to reinvent myself from my high-school self, where it has become necessary to renounce my shy, doubtful nature that had dictated all of my decisions up until graduation. Furthermore, my desire to seek academic satisfaction past the classroom has led me to these rewarding experiences. Even though my future is vague, I believe that by pursuing my true passion, the path toward a satisfying life will prevail.

I hope in your first year here at SHSU, you will find the same.

Good luck!


Brian Aldaco

- END -

This page maintained by SHSU's Communications Office:

Associate Director, Communications: Emily Binetti

Communications Manager: Vacant
Telephone: 936.294.1837

Communications Writer: Campbell Atkins
Telephone: 936.294.2638

Thomason Building: Suite 102

Please send comments, corrections, news tips to