Drake students reflect on their first year at Drake University and offer advice for current first-years.
Junior Hunter Hildebrand said that friendships are super important and “aspects that you can fall back on during tough times.”
“I felt that I had found my place on campus once I began to develop deep connections with peers as well as getting involved on campus,” Hildebrand said. “A connection to friends around you keeps you in balance.”
Hildebrand said he faced multiple challenges his first year, and friends are what helped him get through it.
“In my first semester, I got mono and was having a tough time doing much of anything. If it weren’t for the friends I had developed early on, I don’t think I would still be at Drake,” Hildebrand said.
Besides creating friendships, Hildebrand said that getting involved at Drake is beneficial.
“Additionally, I enjoy creating an impact on my community. Getting involved allowed me to grow as an individual as well as feel like I was changing campus for better,” Hildebrand said. “Once I identified these two aspects in my life, I felt that I belonged at Drake.”
Many students are very involved at Drake University, whether it’s clubs or sports or more. Depenning said “saying yes” to these were helpful to her and would recommend first-years do the same.
“Saying yes to everything and showing a genuine interest,” Depenning said. “Being a first-year, everyone is more than willing to help you. You’ll get plenty of opportunities where Bulldogs are asking you to do things.
Hildebrand agreed that showing genuine interest is beneficial.
“If you know you want something, showing a genuine interest will greatly benefit you,” Hildebrand said. “I did this with a few business organizations and it allowed me to get elected to leadership positions early on.”
But, she said to be aware of limits.
“I would say yes to everything until I became aware of my limits and what I was capable of,” Depenning said. “Regardless, some of the best involvements I had came from saying yes on a whim.”
Depenning said she wished someone had told her to take time for her mental health.
“I wish someone would have told me not to stress myself out so much,” Depenning said. “I thought school was everything, so I would spend every last minute on school. I didn’t take time for mental health at all.”
Hildebrand said he wished someone had told him “not to be afraid to be uncomfortable.”
“I wish someone would’ve told me to not be afraid to get uncomfortable since it provides plenty of growing opportunities,” Hildebrand said. “Getting out of your comfort zone is where growth takes place. Hence, you can become a better individual when you seek out uncomfortable experiences.”
He said the “more you practice” the easier it gets.
“I wish someone would’ve told me this because embracing these opportunities can be awkward,” Hildebrand said. “The more you practice though, the more comfortable you get getting out of your comfort zone. “
But, the biggest piece of advice Hildebrand has for first-years is to “do your own thing.”
“When starting a new stage in your life, everyone just wants to fit in,” Hildebrand said. “However, I have found that doing your own thing is extremely rewarding and gives more self-fulfillment than trying to fit in.”
Sophomore Halle Depenning said to understand that things will change.
“I would tell myself to not decide my major right away,” Depenning said. “I had what felt like everything planned out. So much has changed.”