Transitioning into the "Why Not?" Mindset
If you've read my post about why I chose Dartmouth (which I highly recommend doing!) then you understand my choice to attend Dartmouth was very much a decision I didn't think was plausible. I didn't think it was possible for a kid from the rural country who had always struggled financially to attend his dream institution. Attempting to get into Dartmouth seemed like an intangible dream; like something I could aspire to but never have control over.
What I'm beginning to realize is that the biggest goals I could even think of setting for myself (like getting into Dartmouth and thriving here) are tangible, realistic, and certainly possible. Like many things in my life, all it takes is determination and a series of making the right choices to achieve that goal. Let me give you a few examples of how this has hit me particularly hard at Dartmouth:
During my first few weeks on campus, I was eager to get involved with some kind of weather/climate research here on campus. In my mind, there were obvious roadblocks: you're supposed to "settle into" Dartmouth before you take on any rigorous roles, and there isn't a distinct meteorological department here, so I thought I was sort of in limbo for my academic interests for a while. This was not the case. The phrase "if there's a will, there's a way" is the story of my life within these past few months. I was fortunate enough to get in contact with a professor in the Earth Science department, Dr. Erich Osterberg, who talked to me about my interests. I took his meteorology class and wrote a formal research proposal my first term. I just did a formal presentation on my first research project this past weekend. I was so stoked!
Another example of a "why not?" in my life came with finding summer opportunities for my first "off-term." Just to give you a little bit of insight, the Dartmouth "D-Plan" allows you to take multiple terms away from Dartmouth's campus over your four years here if you so choose. I thought my first summer away would be an awesome opportunity to make connections and get some practical experience. The flexibility of Dartmouth's academic schedule allows for you to branch out and find your niche! Over winter break (known as winterim at Dartmouth), I was researching different meteorology/climate science internships for the '22 summer. I came across a few that I thought would be neat, but one stood out in particular: the Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory internship at Princeton University. At first I didn't want to apply; I didn't want to get deterred because I knew I couldn't get this position. Not this early in my career. But... here comes that "why not?" statement. Why not me? I'm willing to put in the work. I'm determined. I wanted this, so I chased it and got the position.
Being at Dartmouth and immersing myself among some of the brightest people I've ever met has been a humbling experience. At the same time, it has allowed me to realize I should continue to chase my biggest aspirations even if they seem implausible or out of reach. Every single time I've made the decision to just "go for it" under the "why not?" mindset, I've benefited from it. I want you to remember this. You. Are. Able. Go after your biggest goals. Dartmouth has helped me adopt this mindset and realize I can do these things, and I'm so grateful.