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Sophomore Year Reflection

This year was the most stressful, exciting, and eventful year to date. It also marks the

happiest year I’ve had thus far. Sophomore year began with the challenge of taking 4 UHON

courses at the same time (Sophomore Honors Studies, Origins of Mathematics, Data Analytics

Using Excel, and Ethiopia: Culture of Famine and Beauty) in addition to Pathophysiology and

beginning an assistantship through the Honors College with Dr. David Levine in the physical

therapy department. I also applied to the School of Nursing and was accepted in October, which

is by far my biggest accomplishment in my academic career. As “pre-nursing” majors, we spend

approximately two years taking pre-recs, submit an application, and wait in agony for a month or

two for the result. I was thankful to have had Emily Hopkins as my confider and roommate as it

is both very comforting and very convenient to be able to yell through the walls when we

become too stressed out. As we’ve tackled our first semester of the nursing program together,

she has remained that source of support for me, as hopefully I have been for her.

Beginning the first semester of nursing school was nerve-wracking to put it simply. The

classes are completely different from any other at UTC, lasting a minimum of two and a half

hours and up to eight hours. Among check-offs, six weeks of clinical in a local hospital, and

practice NCLEX-style exams, the pressure was high consistently. However, I found myself

thriving instead of drowning with this type of schedule. In addition to enjoying being busy, I

found all of the content I learned interesting and knew that it could one day be essential to know

for the sake of a patient’s life. There were, of course, nights when I felt like I was cracking under

the pressure, but recalling the patients I had interacted with and knowing that this one day will be

worth it, I pushed through and successfully completed my first semester of five.
While my fall semester kept me plenty occupied, my spring semester was considerably

busier. I went to class five days a week, met often with my assistantship mentor Dr. Levine and

continued researching, and was still able to maintain relationships with my loved ones. I also

presented at two conferences in my spring semester with my peers Emily Hopkins and Katelyn

Thompson. Our presentation was entitled “Parental Resistance to Childhood Vaccination” and is

a condensed version of a research paper we completed in our Data Analytics seminar the

semester before with Dr. Ahmadi. In this presentation, we used the Behavioral Risk Factors

Surveillance System (BRFSS) to collect data about the percentage of children being vaccinated

in the United States. Using this data in a bivariate regression analysis, we investigated why the

national rate for child vaccination in 2015 was lower than expected at 72.2%. Furthermore, we

analyzed why there was a national drop in the percentage of children vaccinated in 2009 to

44.3%. We explored what factors deter parents from vaccinating their children, how those factors

have decreased vaccination rates, and what can be done to increase the number of protected

children. Our primary goal in this presentation was to suggest how an increased percentage of

vaccinated individuals will benefit the health of our nation and steps that may be taken to do so.

We presented this at the Tennessee Collegiate Honors Council Conference (TCHC) in Memphis,

TN and at UTC’s ReSEARCH Dialogues. We received very helpful feedback from both of these

conferences that will be useful as we begin to revise the presentation before traveling to Boston,

MA for the National Collegiate Honors Council in November. We are extremely excited for this

opportunity and are hopeful to improve upon the presentation even more in the months to come.

We have also been in touch with one of the nursing professors to potentially present to the

Tennessee Organization of Nurse Executives in September.

Although my sophomore year was busy and at times stressful, I look back on it with pride

and happiness. I feel that I have accomplished a lot, reached way out of my comfort zone, and

formed new relationships that will last a lifetime. One of the most prevalent responses I have

heard when mentioning that I’m in the nursing program is that I must have “no social life and

zero personal time.” While it is true that I have very little free time that isn’t devoted to studying,

I make the most of what I do have with my friends and loved ones. Sacrifices have to be made

when I’m studying and practicing what I learn in the classroom constantly, but I’m lucky to have

a very supportive circle of friends. From cheering me on while I have a 24-hour study marathon

to being my “patient” to practice clinical skills on, I always have a support group to fall back on.

If this academic year had to be condensed into one sentence it would be as follows: Although I

ran on little to no sleep and was stressed constantly, I’ve had the most successful, gratifying, and

memorable year yet. Now on to the next!