As I sit outside Starbucks in Wilson Commons and reflect on the past few weeks, I am filled with a mix of emotions. In May 2014, just a few months ago, I graduated from the University of Rochester with my Bachelor of Science degree in Biomedical Engineering. I truly loved my undergraduate experience at the University of Rochester and decided that I would continue my education here for my Masters degree. When I researched the graduate programs that the University offered, I was excited about the TEAM program because of the emphasis on the fusion between engineering and business. As a senior at the U of R, I enrolled in the undergraduate Technical Entrepreneurship class, which opened the door to business for me. I was able to compete in the Mark Ain Business Model Competition, and I felt that this exposure to the Simon Business School confirmed that I wanted to stay in Rochester for one more year.
If I were asked to describe the transition between undergraduate life and graduate life at Rochester I would have to say: complex. The hardest part about this transition is the realization that I am no longer an undergraduate. The last time I was on campus, I was sitting on the Eastman Quadrangle graduating with some of my lifelong friends. I completed four great years of college, and I was excited to begin one more year of graduate school. It was the best day of my life and it was a surreal experience. When I returned in August to begin my graduate assistantship as the University’s spirit coordinator, I was eager to return and excited to start a life of independence. Campus was quiet, and I was finding myself in a comfortable routine. Soon, TEAM orientation was here and I was ready to meet my new classmates. But once classes began, life sped up very fast, and I quickly found myself back in the library as the rigor of classes changed. I also realized how different campus was without the people I spent the last four years with. I never before noticed how many familiar faces I saw on a daily basis on the River Campus. I was nervous that without my all of my friends from undergrad, I would not be able to enjoy this year.
Over the past few weeks, I have been able to lessen this anxiety by making a simple change: moving forward with this next chapter in my life. I vow that I will no longer dwell on what life was like for the past four years, but rather forge ahead and find new things to do. While there is still room for improvement, I have made a few steps to do this already. For instance, I now pack my lunch each day rather eating in dining halls, I study in the grad-students-only study rooms in the Periodical Reading Room of Rush Rhees, and I have explored the previously unknown world of the Simon Business School. I can already see how these few changes have helped with this transition.
So in short, I would say that although the beginning of the year may not have begun as smoothly as I hoped it would, I have already started to find ways to improve this. I am enjoying the TEAM curriculum, I am making new friends from all around the world, and I am truly ecstatic that I have continued to make the University of Rochester my home for one more year.
– Courtney Astemborski ’15 (MS)