Hi, my name is Chisom and I am a second-year Global Epidemiology Student here at RSPH. To my incoming first-years: Welcome to the Family! The decision you made to enroll here at Rollins will certainly reward you in the future.
As a second-year student, I don’t have to reach back too far in my memories to remember what it was like to be in your shoes. This time last year, I had all of the usual anxieties and butterflies regarding relocating to a new city, making new friends, and embarking on a new educational journey. I mean, we’ve all been there before; being a young college freshman walking onto campus for the first time. But something about starting graduate school just hit different.
Now, while I admittedly still have a great deal to learn during my time here at Rollins, I’d like to think that I still have some knowledge that I can impart upon incoming first-years. Specifically, what I wish I knew prior to starting classes last fall. Here are the TOP 3 Things That I Wish I Knew Before Starting at RSPH:
1. Read your emails, download Corq, and sign up for events as soon as you are able to.
As an introvert, myself, I agonized over the idea of forcing myself to get out and socialize. However, we all know that at a new school, in a brand new city, it can be pretty isolating to stay in one’s comfort zone and keep to yourself. So I highly encourage you all to read the emails that come in from your department as well as downloading the Corq app in order to keep up with events that are happening throughout the week. There are so many clubs and organizations that put on mixers in order to bring like-minded folks together so take advantage! I met some of my closest friends here at Rollins through these events. Just make sure, and I can’t stress this enough, that you are proactive in registering for events, especially when there is an attendance limit. You don’t want to miss out on the opportunity to network and meet new people just because you procrastinated getting a ticket. I’ve been there, it stings a little.
2. Keep an open mind about your research interests.
I know everyone means well, but I sometimes worry that immediately asking what our research interests are so early in our public health career can inadvertently cause us to pigeonhole our potential. I think it is super important to use your time here at Rollins to, yes, delve deeper into the fields that intrigue you, but to also remain open to all that is out there. Public Health is such an incredibly broad field. There are disciplines out there that you don’t know that you don’t know about. I came in with an interest in infectious diseases transmission in youth populations. However, through my coursework, I became incredibly interested and passionate about correctional healthcare and infectious disease transmission among MSM (men who have sex with men) in these settings. I can honestly say this was not on my radar prior to starting at Rollins and now, I have a real passion for it. Get out there, keep an open mind, and be a sponge to new information; you never know what might stick!
3. Send that email.
Listen, you miss 100% of the shots you don’t take and lose 100% of the races you don’t run. Send. That. Email. The faculty at Rollins, in my humble opinion, are some of the most helpful and accessible guides out there. You have some of the leading voices in the field at your fingertips, so you better use those fingertips to start drafting up some emails. Ask them for access to journal articles, advice on your thesis, assistance with acquiring an APE, etc. Do not let the possibility of not getting a reply hinder you from reaching out. It will always be worth it in the end.
Now, I know I provided 3 things that I wish I knew but I can assure you, there are many more. Please know that if you are ever curious, need any advice, or have any lingering questions during your time here, feel free to reach out to me. I am always down to help out a fellow eagle!