2nd Year Perspective: A Reflection on the Fall Semester

By Sophia Lamb, MPH’23 in Global Environmental Health

It’s amazing how quickly time flies by in a two-year master’s program, especially when you are as involved as I am. With that in mind, here are several takeaways that I learned from my fall semester as a second year at Rollins in the Global Environmental Health concentration.

Don’t overload yourself on course work
Both semesters my first year, I took 17 to 18 credits (the maximum credit limit), on top of a REAL position and being involved in a student organization. This semester I knew I was working two part-time jobs and was part of a student organization, so dropped my course load down to 13 credits. A couple of my classes were a lot of work, but overall, it was much appreciated.

Start your Integrated Learning Experience (ILE) sooner rather than later
For my ILE, I am doing a capstone, which will be required for all Environmental Health students moving forward. Other departments require a thesis or let you choose between a thesis and capstone. The easiest way to find an ILE is to reach out to people you know and people you are interested in working with. Some professors are coveted and can only take on so many students, so it’s best to start looking early. Over the summer I was an Orientation Coordinator for the Office of Student Affairs’ Student Engagement Team (SET). SET asked me to stay on during the school year, so I decided to do my capstone through them, which is looking at how we can make student organization event planning and hosting more sustainable, accessible, and equitable.

Not all groups or organizations will have people who mesh together well. So, do what you can to make it work, but don’t be too hard on yourself if things don’t go as planned
I was a part of a student organization this past year that had some internal disagreements over the summer. This set up a semester of tension within the organization, even for those that were not involved in the disagreement. At first several of us tried to solve the issue at hand and get everyone to work together, but some issues cannot be solved and it’s just important to work with what you have. The same can be said about group projects. You’re not always going to be paired with people you like or with people who are willing to put in the effort, so it’s important to do what you can and ask for help from an authority figure (i.e. a professor or supervisor) when it’s needed.

If you want things to change, you have to say something
One thing I love about Rollins is that we have such a diverse student body that is passionate about important issues and they’re not afraid to speak their mind. Of course, things are not going to change every time you speak up, but you never know what impact it might have. For example, several other Rollins students and I took an undergraduate/graduate hybrid course titled ENVS 526: Climate Change & Society. Originally this did not count as credit towards the Climate & Health Certificate, but we got enough people to ask and make a convincing argument that it was able to be added as credit.

Networking is your friend
There are so many opportunities to network through the Office of Career Development, student organization events, community-hosted events, and more. As a second year entering my final semester, I need to start thinking about jobs that I might want to apply for. With that being said, it really is beneficial to go to events that pique your interest and meet as many people as you can because you never know when a connection may come in handy.

Go to that event that sounds interesting
Along with networking opportunities, Rollins and Emory offers so many fun events that you can attend. See below for some of the events that I enjoyed this past year! Featured (from left to right, then top to bottom): Inter-graduate Diwali Celebration, Climate Conversations, RSGA Kickball Tournament, Secret Dooley Gift Exchange

Get to know the staff and faculty at Rollins
As someone who works with staff in the Office of Student Affairs, I’ve been fortunate to be able to maintain natural connections with people who work at Rollins. Most staff and faculty working at Rollins are there because they want to be around students and help students succeed. Even just saying hello to staff members as you walk around campus or introducing yourself to your new professor at the start of your first class can go a long way. Not only have I built fun connections with people at Rollins, knowing many of them has opened new doors and connections that I never would have thought about. 

Leave some time to have fun
The school year can get pretty hectic, so definitely schedule some time on the weekends or whenever you can to have some fun. Whether it be as simple as grabbing boba with a friend or as big as a weekend trip down to Brunswick (Coastal Georgia) with your partner, fitting things into your schedule far in advance can actually make them a reality. This year, I set a goal not to work on the weekends, which opened up more opportunities to be social and relax. Obviously, I don’t always get my weekends free, but it’s helped motivate me to get my work done with enough time for play.

Don’t forget to take a break and leave some time for yourself
Between school, work, and social activities, life can become overwhelming. I’ve found that taking some time to recharge my batteries by working out, getting outside, or listening to music can really help me destress. As an ambivert (mix of introvert and extrovert) I’ve found that it’s just as important to schedule alone time for myself as it is to schedule social time with my friends.

Now, three semesters down and only one more to go!

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