Semester Wrap Up

Hello! It’s Serna (she/her/hers) again! So what was I doing this semester? Lots of things (NINJA’ed a class, became a Peer Advocate, did more in Baja, started (H)OLA sorta…, took care of myself, and more). Well, I’m writing this Wednesday of Finals’ week and I’ll be done tomorrow. Sorta.

Tomorrow is full… of adventures!?

8:00am PoE (Principles of Engineering) Final Presentation (My last Final! Yay!)
11:30am? (Maybe 10:30?) Help with Design Nature Final
3:00pm Clean and Wrap up Design Nature
5:00pm Off Campus Job (Code Ninjas) Shift
7:00pm Peer Advocates End of Semester Celebration
9:00pm Baja Racing End of Semester Gathering

The best part is that everything is back to back and that I actually don’t have time to eat… oh wait. But technically after tomorrow I’m done for the semester.

I have a couple of work shifts this weekend and I present for Baja and will be presenting my PoE project for Olin’s Fall Expo, but I leave right after Expo.

Writing this, I realize this semester went a lot faster than I remember it did. There was a while where it dragged on, but it’s the end already. I guess when you do things time goes by without you realizing it.

So these things… what were they?

As mentioned previously, I NINJA’ed* Design Nature which entailed attending Design Nature, having weekly meetings with professor Debbie Chachra, and having NINJA hours to help first-year students outside of class. That took a lot of time out of my schedule. At least it did during the hopper project. (I worked 20 hours during hopper week!) I also learned a lot. Debbie is a really amazing person that has random experiences and I really enjoyed our weekly meetings. I also had fun seeing the chaos that is Design Nature, sketch modeling, teaming, and all those things-you’ve-done-before-but-not-together from the outside. I loved being on a team (Studio Buddies) with the other NINJAs in the class. It was also an interesting way to engage with the first year class.

Another thing I did this year that I didn’t do last year was that I became a Peer Advocate for Sexual Respect. I wanted to be a better resource for my friends and this was a way I was able to do so without doing the full plunge of becoming an R2**. I wasn’t embarrassed about having condoms outside my room; plus, it gave me an excuse to also have candy in/outside my room. There were some events we did and meetings we had that educated me a lot and I feel better able to engage in situations that are unfortunate, but also now know how to deliver advice in a more effective way. I also got to work with Beth, our new Director of Wellness, who I helped interview late summer/early fall!

Something I did last year that I continued to do this year was Baja Racing. I really liked the experience I got from Baja and it helped me out in classes so I decided to keep doing it. This year I switched from Drive Train Team (the gear people) to the Chassis Team (the car frame), but even then I was able to CAD (a 3D sketch basically) the Gas Tank Mount and now I’m working on the Splash Guard! It’s really exciting to be part of a bigger team that is interconnected with the different classes and people with different majors!

But sometimes it’s nice to take time to remember where you came from. I’ve written before about how Olin let me feel like an engineer despite my labels, but sometimes not making time for the other parts of you that actually mean a lot to you causes you to have an Olin self and a home self and those are really hard to balance. Which is what my Story Slam piece, an Independent Study (basically a class but more lowkey) lead by Gillian Epstein, is about. So anyways, I started (H)OLA with Antonio Perez (’20). (H)OLA stands for Olin Latinx Association (the H is silent). Because Antonio and I were a bit busy this semester, it basically meant that I made chocoflan (a cake that is half chocolate cake and half flan) a couple of times and celebrated holidays that were convenient.

Which leads me to the fact that I worked really hard on taking care of myself this semester. I didn’t have the best first year. Over the semesters, I became better equipped to excel, but I really nailed it down this semester. To be fair, I only took 14 credits between Principles of Engineering, Bayesian’s Statistics, Linearity II, and Story Slam. I was taking 18 credits, but I talked to Linda Canavan (the Registrar) before dropping an additional class I was signed up for, so I had a bit more leeway to figure things out. I also talked to my doctors and was more conscious about being proactive on my health care via Pneumonia Vaccines and routine testing, but that didn’t stop my PoE lab partner from giving me the freshmen plague... which I’m still dealing with.

In summary, what I learned this semester was that college is like clay. Sometimes it’s hard, but you can work it out to be smoother. You also have an unlimited creative potential for it. Yeah, if you make a house, you still need you walls (classes) and roof (taking care of yourself) but you get to add floors (clubs) to it and shape it however you want. I’ll be sad to be leaving Olin and the weird house I’ve made of it for a couple of weeks, but I’m ready to recharge over break and come back fighting next semester. I’m up to exciting stuff then, so stay tuned.


*NINJA: Need Information Now, Just Ask! Olin's version of a teaching assistant; an undergraduate upperclassmen who assists with a course they already completed. NINJA is also frequently used as a verb at Olin, as in "I NINJA Design Nature," meaning "I am a teaching assistant for the Design Nature course."

**R2: Resident Resource. Olin's version of a Resident Assistant (RA).

Posted in: Erika '21