Advice to College Freshman

Miriam Zegarac, Case Western Reserve

Majors: Psychology and Cognitive Science

Minor: Childhood Studies

Dream Job: Clinical child psychologist, researcher, or both

What advice do you have for incoming freshmen at Case?

Definitely explore your surroundings and social circles. Realize there are tons of people you can still meet even after you have met a group of friends.

Also, don’t be afraid to talk to professors. It took me way too long to get the courage to ask professors for help, supplementary readings, or research experiences. If you get good vibes from certain teachers, talk to them!

When you stay in touch with friends and family, it might be nice to make them things or send letters instead of communicating strictly digitally or over the phone. Although we talked nearly every day while I was in school, my mom and I would send handmade cards, letters, or paintings to each other; I felt like it was a way to still spend time and mental energy with her.

Best part about attending school in Cleveland?

Access to the museums! CWRU students’ IDs got us in for free to the museums; countless times I would go to MOCA or CMA after class and spend hours looking around. It’s relaxing and interesting.

A lot of people liked to complain about going to school in Cleveland, but I enjoyed it overall. There was a lot to do like go to shows at the Happy Dog, walk around and look at the giant monuments in Lake View Cemetery, see movies at CIA’s Cinematheque, or try new restaurants and coffee shops, but the campus was also a great place to get studying done and chill out with friends.

Worst part about attending school in Cleveland?

The grody weather. When it’s rainy and windy, there are tons of broken, inside-out umbrellas rolling around like tumble weeds. During the winter it’s sludgy, super snowy, bleak, bitterly cold, and pretty much everyone has chapped lips or a runny nose.

How do you feel about leaving University?

I feel excited to re-build my definition of “home” after leaving college. The neighborhoods around CWRU were my main haunts for four years, but now my childhood home is main headquarters again. I’m still on campus sometimes for work. When I walk around the campus, I feel somewhat like an outsider because I’m not filling the role of “undergraduate student” anymore. I’m looking forward to the new ways I’ll mesh and interact with the community.

Are you employed now?

I’m going to be working as a research assistant in the Play, Creativity, and Child Development Lab at CWRU.

How did you get to where you are now, professionally?

I started pursuing the pre-med track during my first undergrad year, but realized I was more interested in psychological sciences. My mom really encouraged me to ask professors about gaining research experiences, but I was intimidated and kept telling myself that “someone better and smarter than me has already asked.” Eventually I let go of those insecurities, found professors who needed help in their labs, and now I am following a path that complements my interests in creativity and child development. I’m super blessed to have family, friends, a significant other, and academic mentors who all support me.

How do you feel about the road ahead of you?

Thinking about the future and new experiences makes me feel a bit nervous, but that nervousness fuels my excitement.