Irene Mensah Class of 2016 Major: Human Biology Minor: Public Health
I decided on my academic path based on my career goals. As many students, I came in with the intent of being a Physician. This made me want to pursue a Bachelor of Science in Human Biology. Perhaps, my parents played a role in this decision knowing that a six-figure salary would be pretty nice. I now know that they just wanted what they felt would be best for me in the long run. However, I learned early on that my parents motivation was not going to be enough to get me through the trials and tribulations of the hardcore natural science courses that I was about to embark upon. In the end it was not my parents in the classroom it was now the professor, the textbook, and myself that I had to face. The journey to become a Physician was no longer just a topic of discussion, it was now happening. I had to become my own motivation.
The moment I reached that glorious fork in the road that I like to call Organic Chemistry, I was literally at a crossroad. The way I overcame this obstacle was by seeking the office of Academic Support Services which housed CSTEP, Project Excel, and CARSS. These programs were able to provide me with one-on-one tutoring, peer mentoring, find out about research opportunities, and even attend trips to visit Medical School seminars. My advice to students who are struggling is to not be afraid to step out your comfort zone and always ask questions to seek out opportunities. I was able to form a huge network and family in Project Excel where I had Mentors like Chris & Keisha who always introduced me to many students like myself that were lost and looking for extra guidance. Their office made me feel like I was not alone in this journey to finding myself and what I was truly passionate about pursuing.
I ended up joining Residential Life and becoming an RA on Dutch Quad my sophomore year and later that summer I became an Orientation Assistant which was one of the most remarkable and rewarding experiences ever. I put myself out there and was able to welcome over 2,500 incoming freshmen to UAlbany. Many of which come from different backgrounds but we all have one thing in common of sharing Great Dane Pride. Now I work for the University Apartments and I am a Peer Mentor for Project Excel. With the help of these wonderful resources, I found that my heart was set on becoming a health care provider and that the salary I would make did not matter so long as I was improving the health of a population and providing health care services to those in need. This newly found discovery made me pick up a minor in Public Health that I fell in love with. One thing I think all students should know is the biggest mistake you could make is thinking that you need to have your whole life figured out. It’s great to have a plan but the World is truly Within Reach here at UAlbany don’t let a moment pass you simply by not making the effort to put yourself out there, reach out for help when you are struggling, and make this the best 4 years of your life !