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Saturday, March 2
The Indiana Daily Student

opinion

GUEST COLUMN: College is about connection

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Earlier this month, I had the honor of speaking to this year’s cohort of direct-admits to the College of Arts and Sciences as part of the College’s Direct Admission Ceremony in the IU Auditorium. With the fall semester in full swing and freshmen and transfer students embarking on their journeys at IU Bloomington, here are some recommendations I shared based on three meaningful years as an undergraduate that may help guide and inform others:   

First, some may believe the most important qualities to find success at IU are scholarship and tenacity. As a senior majoring in both psychology and Spanish — with a minor in Black cinema studies and a certificate in clinical psychological science — yes, these qualities are incredibly important.  

However, the foundation of all my experiences and opportunities here at IU came from making connections. Building relationships with peers, faculty, advisors and career coaches really can be extremely influential in the experience you build for yourself as you go through undergrad and life.     

It's hard to imagine that just three years ago I was a freshman, unsure of what my undergraduate journey would look like or how I could use my time at the college and the university effectively. After meeting my advisors, I recognized the freedom I had within my schedule to tailor my education to my specific interests. They made me aware that I could double major and have a minor while graduating on time.    

By choosing to major in Spanish during my freshman year, I was qualified to join Sigma Delta Pi, the Hispanic honors society for which I am now co-president. This specific opportunity was brought to my attention by Professor Israel Herrera-Cárdenas, who has been such a strong advocate for me throughout my time within the Spanish department.

Additionally, although COVID-19 and “Zoom university” made building connections difficult as a first-year student, I still managed to join clubs and attend virtual office hours to know my professors in a one-on-one setting.     

By my sophomore year, campus began to open up and I could finally interact with people on a more personal level. I joined several extracurricular activities and was eager to be in as many spaces as possible. Although I am not currently active in all the clubs I joined during this time, I still joined the group chats or GroupMe's for the option to participate when I was available.  

Sophomore year was also the year I joined my social psychology lab with Dorainne Green, which was the catalyst for so many opportunities and connections that have set me up for success.   

Professor Green introduced me to the Center for Research on Race and Ethnicity in Society (CRRES), where I worked throughout my junior year and continue to work individually with their graduate assistant Dasha Carver, who has become another impactful mentor to me. This was also the year I had the opportunity to study abroad in Chile, where I was able to land a psychology internship and had one of the most amazing experiences of my life.     

During my junior year, I continued to stay involved on campus in a variety of ways. I became a member of Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority Inc., a member of Hudson and Holland Scholars Program, an Undergraduate Teaching Assistant (UTA), and started working at the Walter Center for Career Achievement as a peer coach, where I met another mentor, Andrea White.  

At that time, I was introduced to the idea of writing a Spanish honors thesis by my professor, Alejandro Mejías-López, who ultimately advised my research. This thesis was an expression of all my combined interests in film, psychology, Spanish, race and culture. This was also the year I presented my research with Professor Green at the CRRES Undergraduate Symposium.  

Although my junior year was the most difficult year that I have experienced here at IU, I was able to thrive because of my constant communication and connection with faculty, staff and peers.     

Currently, I serve as the secretary for both the National Panhellenic Council and my sorority’s chapter. I am writing a second honors thesis in psychology under the supervision of my amazing mentor Professor Green. I also work as both a peer coach and UTA, while planning to apply for Ph.D. programs in clinical psychology.  

Although in some respects my college career has been a repetitive cycle of trial and error, the core of my success comes from the connections I made along the way.    

Being new to the university can be daunting, but the ability to connect with those around you will help guide you along the way. Whatever path you may take, always remember your village (as my parents would put it). Remember the people and relationships that allow you to be the version of yourself that you strive to be. These connections will undoubtedly take you places you had no idea you could go.   

Trinity Barnes is a senior in the College of Arts and Sciences double majoring in psychology and Spanish. 

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