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What experience/class/program at Dartmouth has been the most memorable for you?

A: Jenny with crossed arms

It's hard to choose just one, but one of my most memorable classes was Biology 11: Major Events in the Evolution of the Human Genome, which I enrolled in my freshman fall. Eager to get started on the biology major and get to know the professors, I was debating between taking a harder anatomy class and Biology 11 - which is recommended for freshmen.

Biology 11 is offered year-round and each term, the topic and professors change. In the fall, the course focuses on the human genome and uses a gene to investigate a significant event in the history of life. Pretty crazy stuff! For example, chromosome 14 provides insight into the origin of life itself, chromosome 8 on the invention of DNA, and chromosome 7 on the beginnings of human language.

Although it was a large class (about 80 students), it did not feel that way. I remember that at the end of the first week, my professor started calling students by their name when they raised their hands. At first, I panicked and thought everyone was already going to office hours and introducing themselves. But it turns out he takes the time to memorize each and every one of our names!

There are other ways that made me feel not so lost in a large, rigorous class. For example, I signed up for a study group that was led by a sophomore, meeting each week with a few of my classmates to go over the homework sets. I also attended group office hours held in a classroom and which ended up being the setting where I found myself having those lightbulb moments. 

Now entering my junior year, I know that this class was not the exception - most of my STEM courses have encouraged group work and provided so many resources (some with the professor, others with peers) that allow students to excel. I ended up working as a study group leader last year to help first-years in the class, bringing it all full circle. In addition to being a fascinating course that opened my way of thinking in many ways, it was the perfect introduction to Dartmouth academics and one I will always remember.

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