Sophomore Success Intro

Wondering whether or not it’s a good idea to join the Sophomore Success program? Let me see if I can help..

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I completed the Sophomore Success program my sophomore year (shocker), and I have to say I found it a helpful and worthwhile experience. My journey to find the course of study that was right for me(see my previous post on this page, “How To Find the Major That’s Best For You”) was quite the roller coaster! Nevertheless, one of the things that significantly guided me through that journey, and on the journey to finding a career path, was the Sophomore Success program. What I found was how to better search for the career path that bestsuited my personality, passions, and strengths. I encourage YOU to try it out!

I know the questions that are probably going through your head: “Do I have time for this? Will this really help me find a path? ANOTHER personality test?”

Okay. First, you certainly may have time for it. The program does not demand very much: two longer meetings bookending the semester, several short meetings with a mentor sprinkled throughout (time flexible), and very small weekly assignments - questionnaires basically. Not so bad, eh?

Second, while it may not give you the answer to life, the universe, and everything, but I found that talking through my hobbies, talents, and desires helped me get a better sense of what it was I was really looking for. It also provided a great avenue for advice and a good network for internships and career interests. Talking with someone who’s been there can ease some of the anxiety of the unknown that may be weighing on your shoulders.

Third, about that test… It’s not really a personality test. It helps identify your strengthsin the workplace or any situation in which you have to work with others. This is incredibly valuable information not just for working a career, but also for your time in college.

With that knowledge, I was able to apply myself to particular areas either in which I knew I would thrive or in which I saw could challenge my weaker areas. It’s all about knowing yourself!

It is important to be aware of your strengths and skills as you embark on post-graduate life so you know better how and where to market yourself. The Sophomore Success program is geared to this approach, not to mention that the faculty involved are extremely dedicated to helping you get a better sense of yourself. 

So, do you know what you want? Are you still trying to figure that out? The Sophomore Success program is there for you! Start heading in the right direction.

The Key to Competition: Why Competitive Individuals Succeed

Why do competitive individuals succeed? 

This question can be asked to multiple people and you will receive a variety of different answers. This is because many people perceive competition differently. While everyone's view of competition may be based in experience, it does not mean they truly understand what being a competitive individual is and what benefits come from it. 

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Before I give my take on what competition is and why competitive individuals succeed, I want to posit 3 simple questions that will help one better understand and reevaluate their take on competition:

1) Is there a universal key to becoming competitive? 

2) Is competitiveness something naturally acquired, or is it learned? 

3) What is competition and what benefits come from it?

Is there a universal key to becoming competitive? One’s answers may be: “Sure there is! Just outwork and beat everyone, and do not stop until you have done so.” Another may say “Yes - find the most competitive person you know and copy all their styles, tricks and advice.” Although these answers may seem like a “simple key” to becoming more competitive, it’s not. Their answers are not completely wrong because they have some valuable parts one can take from it. First let me start by saying there is no magic key, no instruction manual, no universal tool or anything to becoming more competitive. The key is within yourself. The amount you put into some goal will show your competitiveness. The more you put into that goal, the more likelihood there is to increase your competitiveness. 

Everyone has a different level of competitiveness. Some may have high levels of competitive where they “go hard” from the start and others may have low levels of competitiveness where they have to gradually build to their goal. Yet they are both becoming more competitive because they continue to work on that goal until its achieved. Referring back to those two answers what one can take from it is not to continue until you beat everyone, but to not stop working on your goal. Another part one can take is yes find someone competitive not to copy them but to help you work harder towards your goal. Copying them won't help because those are styles they created for themselves. You will have to create your own.  

Is competitiveness a natural gift, or is it learned? I believe competitiveness is an ability that is for everyone, but on different levels. Some are born with the higher competitiveness that makes them compete harder towards things in their lives, while others may not have the innate need to compete. Now this is where the learning part comes into play. 

Being competitive is not learned. What is learned is what competitive level one self is and through their environments and self-want will increase that competitive level. This is an ability that is within all of us that can be brought forth and worked upon to make better. We can relate this to riding a bike. One has the ability within them to become a great bike rider. It is through their environment and self-want to become a better rider that they bring it forth. Everyone has this ability within them. No one is born a true competitor or learn how to be from others. They only enhance that ability to become great competitors.  

What is competition, and what benefits is come from it? This can be simply answered with a general definition: competition is to contest against another to obtain a prize or some end goal. People will say the benefits that come from competition are attention, bragging rights, first place, prizes, achieving a goal, etc. Now these benefits are all true and great, but they don’t hit the most important benefit of competition, which is the benefit of becoming a better version of yourself. 

Yes, competition is about going against another in hopes to out match them; however, that is not the only thing competition is. The true meaning of competition is to bring the best out in one self - winning is secondary. When people compete with one another, they are bettering each other whether they notice it or not. Through this they will become a better version of themselves no matter if they lost the competition. All the benefits mentioned are true, but the most important benefit is what comes from the center of competition and that is a better you. All else is secondary to it. 

Why do competitive individuals succeed? As one can see from my answers above, I view competition as not only going against someone to become first or win a prize. But to challenge each other to become a better version of themselves. Competition is deeper than just a materialistic prize or attention from others. It boils down to changing oneself for the better. As for why competitive individuals succeed it simply boils down to how hard one is willing to work to reach that goal, that is simply what it is about. Working hard and staying consistent on the path towards their goal will not only lead to success, but also to bettering themselves.

 I do, however, want to point out an important thing about success. Many people believe that one has succeeded when they have reached the top or won a grand prize, but they are wrong. I believe any amount of success can be considered as succeeding. Even if the person competition doesn’t win, he still succeeded because he bettered himself. 

We need to stop viewing success in terms of material and superficial things, and start noticing the small things - ask yourself, "where am I now from the start of this challenge? What have I learned from this challenge? Who have I become due to this challenge? Did I make it that much closer to my end goal?" 

These little things are success and how I personally measure success. We all have to face the fact that we are not going to success in every competition. However, we can if we measure success in those little things. 

Becoming Alumni

Alumni. I’m sure the word sends shivers down our spines, especially those of us who are closing in on the finish line.

We will walk across a stage, we will accept a rolled up piece of paper, we will toss a hat in the air, and then, like that viral National Geographic video titled “Tiny Ducklings Leap from Tree” we will leap into the open air…and then realize, to our horror, that we cannot fly as we see the murky water below us growing ever nearer, and we will rapidly start praying that our first immersive swimming lesson is successful.

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At least, that’s how I’ve been picturing graduation, but I think some people have parties or something like that, too. However, I think the main point is, whether or not we’re excited for what comes after graduation, there’s also a fair amount of fear and anxiety growing inside of us. 

Whenever I’ve heard people talk about graduation, there’s the immediate question that follows: What comes next? And to be honest, I think there’s another question which is usually not voiced, but I think many of us may have thought at least once during our time here: Did we make the right choice? For instance, it’s easy to look at the people surrounding us and recognize their strengths, achievements, and overall success, and to then wonder if we should have made the choices they made, rather than the choices which lead us on what feels like a much more uncertain path. However, I think a great deal of this anxious uncertainty stems from the fact that whenever we are asked about our college career, especially as we close in on graduation, we are more often asked about what the future has to bring, rather than what the past has already established. 

What I mean to say is that we have been through a lot. Whether we have been here for the traditional four years, or much shorter, or much longer than that, we have all faced so much that I don’t think we would have ever dreamed to have faced, especially not at this point in our life. Some of these challenges came directly from our education, but so many more experiences happened outside of this University, experiences that, whether or not we wanted to, we brought back with us to this campus. We have faced countless failures, it’s true, but the fact that we’re still here shows that we’ve overcome just as many of those failures, and that we’ve been blessed with many triumphs as well. Some triumphs have been known campus wide, some have only been shared with a few, and some triumphs only we ourselves know about. These are the triumphs which I think we should be reflecting on now.

I’ll admit, when I first thought of writing an article about alumni, I instantly imagined an article talking about what is to come and how we can possibly discern that future, but I don’t think we can face the future until we have a firm grasp of the past. If we look at these past years spent as students, we will remember the relationships we made and the relationships we lost, the laughs and the tears which came without warning, the hope and the fear that swelled in our chest all at once, the confidence and the insecurities felt when we stepped out onto campus, but most of all, we should remember how many times we persisted, even if, in the moment, it felt like we were giving up. We should remember those days when we felt at our absolute lowest, when we felt the greatest despair, but we continued to walk down this path anyways. It was never in the same way, and it was never by the same means, but we have all done this. We have all made the choice to persevere. 

The fact of the matter is, we have not been existing in an easy-going limbo, waiting for our true life to start when that first job application is accepted, or we hear that distinct calling to religious life, or a new family begins. This whole time we have been living according to God’s plan and we have been telling a story that has already filled so many chapters. We have not been sinners on the brink of sainthood, or imperfections on the brink of perfection. We are people who have been struggling and will continue to struggle, as long as we live on this earth, to be the person we are meant to be in God’s eyes. However, a crucial part of discerning who we are meant to be is done by recognizing the people we have already become. Look at your weaknesses and look at your strengths, but overall, look at your journey so far. Think of how you started and how you will be finishing this educational process. Appreciate the right and the wrong choices you have made and, from there, look at how those past choices can guide your future ones. And above all, pray. God knows more than anyone else how this journey has shaped you, and He knows what it has been shaping you for. This part of our life was not one of insignificance. 

And so, I would like to say congratulations to those who have graduated, good luck to those who have yet to graduate, and to those who are graduating at the end of this year, I can’t wait to walk that stage with you…and I hope none of us fall walking across that stage…but if one of us has to fall, I hope it’s me. I’ll take a loss for the team. 

But in all seriousness, students of Ave Maria University past, present, and future will always be in my prayers because I know how much strength and courage it takes to choose this path, and I know that, whatever happens in our life as alumni, with the help of God, we are prepared to face it.

Student Spotlight: Katelyn Healy

Senior Katelyn Healy, a former member of the AMU Volleyball team turned Women's Golf player, has set her sights on law school after graduation. Hailing from Chicago, IL, she is a double major in Economics and Global Affairs & International Business. Katelyn's sharp wit, academic excellence, and determination to succeed has made her even more resolute in her career goals post-graduation. She describes herself as someone who invests her whole heart in relationships with other people, and a person who is dedicated to make the most of every opportunity presented to her. We got a chance to sit Katelyn down and pick her brain about the in's and out's of law school applications, her majors, and the impact she wishes to make on the world.

Hey, Katelyn! What inspired you to double major in Economics and Global Affairs & International Business?

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I've always been interested in how economics plays a role in our daily lives and society, as we are constantly being affected by the variations of economics on a micro and macro level. 

I also sought out the Global Affairs & International Business major because I want to possibly pursue a career in international law. I thought that the two majors combined would provide a solid foundation of knowledge from which I can build upon in law school.

Tell us all about your law school applications. 

I have applied to twelve law schools so far, and right now I'm in the process of weighing out financial options. Most of the schools I applied to are located in or around Chicago because it is a fantastic atmosphere (it's my home!) and I have experience working in the field there as well. 

I applied to University of Chicago, Northwestern University, DePaul University, Loyola University, John Marshall University, Chicago-Kent College of Law, and University of Illinois at Chicago. I'm also applying to schools here in Florida, such as University of Miami, Stetson University, and Ave Maria School of Law.

What do you hope to do once you graduate law school?

My long term goal is to become a judge. I find it to be more in line with what I want to do in the legal field and it will enable me to have a better work/life balance. As a judge, you have standard hours of work and you work in the same location, which is appealing considering its stability. However, I want to begin my career in law by being a practicing attorney. 

How was studying for and taking the LSAT? Do you have any advice for those preparing for law school?

Start studying as early as possible. Make it a priority, and incorporate it into your every day life so that it becomes a habit. I would fit studying in between my classes and work schedule so that way, if I had any free time, I dedicated it to LSAT preparation and used my time more productively.

I know how difficult it was trying to study for it while in school full time, on top of working a full time job in the summer, but you have to make it work for the sake of your score. I am thankful that I been studying as early as I did, because the test was hard. It was mentally exhausting, draining, and incredibly challenging. 

However, it was totally worth it and an experience that tested my will and patience.

What first made you interested in a career in law?

In eighth grade, my class had a few local attorneys and judges visit our classroom to help us with our school's Mock Trial team, and talk to us about their experiences in the legal field. Their help and influence really got the bug in my brain, so to speak, to look into a career in law.

I really wanted to pursue law, and I was fortunate enough to attend a high school with a very competitive Mock Trial team. I had to work hard to be one of the starting attorneys on the team, so it really motivated me from the beginning to be excellent in my career pursuits. I was able to become experienced in a trial-like atmosphere in a courtroom setting through that experience, which was invaluable to my pre-professional journey.

So, do you have any experiences in the legal field?

I've been working with in a law firm for the past two summers - and I'm going back this summer! - that specializes on medical malpractice and wrongful death, as well as personal injury cases. Essentially, the firm is a plaintiff's attorney. We represent individuals or families that have had these tragedies happen, so my experience there has been rewarding since the focus is on helping people.

Every case the firm takes on is reviewed by experts, which is helpful because it means that the cases all have legitimate or valid reasons for the suits the client is filing. It also helps the plaintiff discover what exactly they can do to obtain justice for medical malpractice or a wrongful death. I work full-time with the law firms during the summer, because I wanted to get as much experience as possible during my undergraduate career.

Additionally, I worked with a family law firm in Naples my sophomore and junior year. 

What was the most difficult thing that has ever happened to you, and how did you deal with it?

My freshman year, I injured my ankle playing volleyball. I had a severe fracture that needed surgery to correct, however I didn't recover well at all. Due to the failure of my initial surgery, the fall semester of my sophomore year was spent in and out of surgeries on my ankle - three total! I couldn't play the sport I loved (and what brought me to Ave in the first place), and I had to miss a lot of school for my multiple recoveries. I was on total bedrest because I was at a high risk for developing a hematoma, which caused me to miss five weeks worth of classes. Since I've always made academics a high priority, it was difficult to take a step back and take care of my health. 

It was especially difficult because I felt secluded in my dorm room, I was far from home recovering from major surgeries, and I felt like I was falling drastically behind in my school work. Thankfully, I was fortunate enough to have fantastic professors who helped me with my classes and assignments. They were incredibly flexible with assignments, tests, and due dates so that my health was taken care of while I still managed to complete the work needed to be done. It only made me appreciate the relationships I had with my professors more because I made sure to communicate with them openly and consistently about what I was going through, and what I needed help with. It's truly one of the advantages of attending a smaller university!

What is most important to you now, and why?

I'd have to say that what is important to me now is maintaining the wonderful relationships I have with other people. As we approach the end of our senior year, we are all going in many different directions and beginning a new chapter in our lives away from one another. I want to make it a priority to keep the bonds of friendship I've made and cultivate them in a new way. Fortunately, technology these days help facilitate distant connections, but I feel like it's so easy to lose contact in the midst of our busy lives and schedules. I think that making a consistent effort to keep and grow my relationships with others is one of the most important and vital aspects of life.