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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.


Hien Nguyen, Cleveland Institute of Art

Majors: Graphic Design and Photography

Dream Job: I want to open my own advertising company and work on fine art photography during my free time. Later in my career I also want to invest in a non-profit organization where I can support young and talented artists locally and internationally.

What advice do you have for incoming freshmen at CIA?

You are officially an adult now so it's time to start making your own wise decisions! If there is something you want to pursue as a life long career, spend some times on it to confirm it is what you want to do. It is OK to do something different than your parents or other relatives. Be bold about your passion!

Associate with the right people. You will find life long friends during college so make friends with good people who support and encourage you. In other words, befriend someone who is a little bit better than you.

It's not difficult to eat properly and have a healthy lifestyle during college. If there are people tell you that you don't have time for it, they are lying. You only want to graduate with a good degree and other educational qualities, not with an eating disorder or any harmful habits, right? Don’t let poor heath habits prevent you from enjoying the long journey ahead of you.

What was it like to attend school in downtown Cleveland? What was the best part of being in CLE? Cleveland has changed significantly over the past few years. The city becomes livelier every day. There are international film festivals, summer rock concerts, contemporary art exhibitions and more. There is Frank Gehry's architecture, Cleveland Museum of Art (one of the top museums in the country) and gorgeous natural landscape in the Metroparks. This is the city of diversity. You can find every thing you are looking for in Cleveland! I feel fortunate to grow up in this environment.

Worst part about attending school in Cleveland?

I can't find anything I dislike about Cleveland honestly!

How do you feel about leaving University?

There is a great journey ahead so I can't wait to pursue a bigger dream. Being in school allowed me to reflect on myself, to see what strengths I have and what weakness I need to improve on. This is a good time to make a lot of mistakes and learn from them. I’m ready to accept any struggles coming my way before climbing the ladder to success.

Are you employed now?

Since I need to improve my communication skills (Hien is from Vietnam), I decided to work in the admissions office of the Cleveland Institute of Art, where I can interact with visitors from all walks of life.

I have also gotten involved in freelance projects with Cleveland artists and a few small businesses to help with T-shirts designs, logos, stationary, photographs, etc.

How do you feel about the road ahead of you?

Whatever job I am doing now cannot really compare to the (9:00-5:00) world but I appreciate all the different things that I've tried so far. It trained me to be flexible and I can define clearer what I want to accomplish.


Brennan Sailors, Cleveland State University

Major: Health Sciences; Pre-Physicain Assistant program Minor: Psychology

Dream Job: Working in primary care, family medicine, or sports medicine

What advice would you give to incoming CSU freshmen?

Be conscious of where you’re going; don’t be too naïve. At every college you should be careful but especially know where you’re going in Cleveland. Freshman year I wanted to go to Wendy’s. But when I put in in the gps it took me to the ghetto. Know your surroundings and walk with a friend.

Exercise! Whether you’re athletic or not, exercise. Do it not only for your physical health but also for metal benefits. Even taking a walk is good for relieving stress. Also, stay in touch with family no matter the distance. It keeps stress level down.

Don’t stress the little things. Classes are all manageable. The difficulty mostly depends on how much time needs to be put in to do well. Like Organic Chemistry is a “hard” class. But that doesn’t mean it’s too hard to do well in, just that you need to dedicate more time to studying.

What professors you have matters more than the specific courses you take. To find the best professors, consult a junior or senior in your major because they have seen the best and the worst. Counselors will also be pretty honest with you if you go to them for advice about which classes to enroll in—they’ll tell you if most students liked or disliked a certain professor. Ratemyprofessor.com isn’t always reliable because upset students often go on rants here and tend to be very biased.

What was it like to attend school in downtown Cleveland? At first I didn’t want to attend and urban school; I wanted to be in a more rural college town. But I’ve really enjoyed it because there are so many things to do, like the Rock Hall and getting cheap Cleveland sports tickets.

Everything I could ever need is in close proximity and on campus the buildings are interlinked. So the campus and the city as a whole is pretty walkable, which is important when it is negative two degrees and it doesn’t take a long time to get to class.

What was the best worst part of being in CLE?

Hearing sirens at night. It can be hard to fall asleep in the downtown dorms.

How do you feel about leaving University?

Bittersweet. It’s nice to be done but at the same time it goes by fast. Everyone is so focused on getting done with school but the real world isn’t any more fun than school is.

Are you employed now?

I’m in the Physician’s Assistant program, so I have more school ahead of me. Despite the money and loans, I’m not going to be pushed away from a career path because it requires more schooling. It is a high intensity program that pretty much requires that students don’t work additional jobs because we have clinicals.

How do you feel about the road ahead of you?

Everyone is nervous about the future and not knowing what’s ahead. But I’m optimistic. Everything’s going to be fine.

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