If you are a collegiette pursuing a major in the natural sciences, it is understandable to feel intimidated at times. With our incredibly intelligent student body and the large size of the College of Natural Sciences, some female students—especially freshman—can feel overwhelmed. Science is a fascinating area to study because of the continuous discoveries and research being done. It’s a subject that is consistently being improved on, whether it be revising old information or adding new discoveries and observations. The College of Natural Sciences is also very diverse, the various majors range from computer science, mathematics, physics and astronomy, to biology. Though being a science major does require extensive hard work, if you are passionate about the subject and stay organized and motivated, you are bound to achieve success like UT sophomore Razan Alnahhas. Razan is a human biology major who is a part of the UT International Genetically Engineered Machine (iGEM) research team. This team genetically modifies E. coli bacteria to adopt new functions that could be beneficial to society. Teams from across the world then compete in an iGEM competition. Razan balances doing research, studying for her classes, being an officer for Project Science Enrichment for Elementary Education (S.E.E.E), and volunteering for Habitat for Humanity, while still having time to enjoy college and spend time with her friends. Here are some of Razan’s secrets to success:
1. Don’t stress out about the little things: “If you don’t do so well on one exam, it’s important to learn from your mistakes and just focus on moving forward,” Razan says. It is important not to get hung up and deterred because of one band grade, though this can be difficult for some people. If you do not do as well as you expected on a test, try changing your studying technique. Remembering that nobody is perfect and that we make mistakes will let you move forward and be determined, ultimately allowing you to perform better.
2. Give yourself time to relax and have fun: “No matter how busy you are, I think you should always try to take some time to clear your mind. Whether it’s taking an hour to have lunch with friends, going to the pool, or watching a movie, everyone needs a break every once in a while,” Razan adds. She usually reserves Fridays as the day where she relaxes from her week of classes and has fun with friends.
3. Take advantage of breaks between classes: “Getting reading done between classes helps me stay on track and get head in my classes,” Razan adds. One hour breaks between classes are a great time to catch up on readings and classwork. They also help you stay in the mindset for learning, so you can more easily pay attention during your next class. Those one hour breaks can easily accumulate, and, when used wisely, can really help you get ahead in school relatively easily.
4. Get involved in things you actually enjoy: “It’s important to not just join clubs because you think it looks good on a resume,” Razan says. With the plethora of organizations here at UT, you are bound to find the perfect one (or ones) for you, so it is not necessary to join the first organization you hear about because you think it sounds impressive. When you are part of organizations that truly match your interests, participating in them will be effortless, and you will take more from the experience.
Though being a science major does require a lot of work, it is also very fun and exciting. Getting involved in research allows you to get a hands-on approach to learning that can completely change your perspective and approach to learning in your science classes. “You get an appreciation for scientific work in general after being in lab because you realize how much work goes into research,” Razan adds. So if you are interested in science, remember to stay positive and pursue your interest. Success comes when you are doing what you truly enjoy!