It seems like such a long time ago that I happened to check my spam folder and saw an email from the then-campus correspondent, Darcy. I had applied to an online magazine despite being an engineering major because I was inspired by my friend Cindy, a writer and a biology major. I really did not expect to get in. Little did I know that before the start of fall 2017, I would be accepted to Her Campus UFL as a writer.
Before joining, I read Her Campus articles all the time. I even signed up for the prompts listserv so that I could potentially write for the website. When I met Cindy, I found out I could write for Her Campus with the UFL chapter despite being STEM. So, I took a risk, used one of my old submissions to a listserv prompt and applied to HC UFL. Then, I got in.
I had no idea what to expect. I showed up for my first meeting, and I was the only engineer there. I felt scared that I wouldn’t fit in because I wasn’t a journalism, English, public relations or any of the other typical majors that you would expect in an organization like Her Campus UFL. I also felt afraid that people would make fun of me for asking questions about AP Style because I was used to engineering writing (I’m still confused by it). Thankfully, nobody cared because HC UFL is a melting pot of majors who share a passion for the website! After that meeting, my social fears were alleviated, and I was thrown into things, with my first article due the next week.
My first article about having anxiety toward going out was published the day after I got out of the local mental health hospital, which I also wrote about for HC UFL. I remember doing homework in my dorm’s common area when I kept on getting Facebook notifications. I was tagged in a screenshot of my very first article posted to the Her Campus front page as a “Top Chapter Article,” which was, back then, a way to recognize the top articles coming from chapters and the most popular articles read that day. My first article was being shared by nationals and being recognized all over. To think, I almost missed it because I was in the hospital.
This helped propel me to continue writing. I saw that people were connecting with what I was writing as time went on. As the semester went on, I grew more and more comfortable with my writing. I used fear sharing my writing with other people because I was made fun of in middle school whenever I shared my creative writing. People in my engineering classes would even question my involvement in HC UFL, and I would simply state, “I love doing it.”
Seeing how people didn’t care what major I was and wanting to further my love of writing, I became determined to stick with HC UFL until I graduated. It’s truly the student organization that I’ve enjoyed the most at UF.
I wanted to write this article as a thank you to the chapter that helped me grow and prepare me for the future and for all of the memories from HC UFL.
Sure, I didn’t do experiments or create engineering designs like I did in my classes, but being responsible for an article every week helped reinforce my writing skills–which is hardly ever a strong suit or a favorite activity for engineers. I remember talking to job recruiters about my writing skills, and they would make a comment about engineers’ lack of writing skills. Even going to graduate school, I know my time with HC UFL is going to help when I’m writing papers and reports. It even helped when I was writing my personal statement for graduate school. It’s instilled in me discipline by having a constant deadline every week. I know I’m going to have deadlines left and right when I’m in graduate school and having to write an article every week was the best head start. This discipline is also great for when I’m working as an engineer or professor with constant deadlines. HC UFL made me write and gave me discipline, which I don’t think I would have done otherwise.
HC UFL has also provided me with experiences that I wouldn’t have gotten elsewhere. From working for events sponsored by brands, like when we had the Her Campus Tour in 2018, to events with New York Times last year, and I even got to be a part of the press when Donald Trump Jr. came to campus. I have come out of my shell because of HC UFL. The articles I chose to write about forced me to be vulnerable with myself. Writing mental health articles became very therapeutic.
I realize upon writing this that HC UFL has helped me find my confidence. Like I said before, I used to be afraid of sharing my writing because of fears of taunting for expressing my views and writing style. Seeing all the wonderful ladies in HC UFL share their stories and passions made me have faith that I will be supported with my endeavors in this organization. I’m not afraid to make my point known, and I know how to be firm in my beliefs, just like in my writing.
I had to overcome this if I wanted to be a great writer. We take risks by putting our words out into the world, not knowing the reaction. Writers have to be unafraid and confident in their work. If I’m going to take a risk, I want to feel great about what I’m doing. By overcoming this fear, I am more confident in myself, and I know that I will forever use my experiences as a writer in whatever I do.
Now that the end of the semester draws near, it also means that my graduation is near. I’m graduating with a degree in materials science and engineering, then going to Texas A&M to do my PhD in the same major. Thankfully, Her Campus UFL has prepared me for the loads of writing I will have to do.
Because of my graduation, it saddens me to say that this is going to be my last article for Her Campus UFL. My time is done, but it’s time for new writers to come along and contribute to this great chapter. Hopefully, there will be more people who fall in love with HC UFL and stay on for as long as they can. It certainly has had a great impact in my life, and I hope it does for others to come. Even if you don’t think you would get in, take a risk like I did and just apply.
Thank you for all that you have done for me, Her Campus UFL. Clearly, you have had a great impact on me. Thank you for letting me write for you, learn from you and make lifelong memories (and also all the free stuff from events).
Seriously though, thank you for letting me be a part of this chapter for three years, Her Campus UFL.
Sophia Ahmed, Writer, Class of 2020