For me, 2016 began uneventfully. I opted out of going out and ringing in the New Year with the masses, and instead, I sat at home reading Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte with three Chihuahuas in my lap. I recall wondering what 2016 would bring me, or better, what I would make of 2016. And to be completely honest, I had no idea. Thinking back on it now, I never thought I would be where I am today: in graduate school doing research while participating in an international council and writing for the university’s blog for graduate students.
I’ve read online articles and seen many Facebook posts of people complaining how 2016 has been the worst year ever. Yes, there have been deaths and other events people find unhappy or unsettling, but it is important to take a moment and reflect on the high points. In my opinion, people spend so much time harping on the negative that they overlook the positive, and a crucial part of learning from the past is appreciating the balance of the bad and the good.
So as a conclusion to my semester of posts, I would like to give you (and myself!) a recap of the highlights of my year.
In the spring, I finished up my senior design project, completed my undergraduate thesis, passed all of my classes, and walked the stage to obtain my B. S. in Mechanical Engineering with Engineering Honors. Whoop! As a first generation college graduate, this was a proud moment for both me and my parents.
The biggest decision I made last year was deciding to stay in school and pursue a Master’s degree. Reflecting back on this decision now, I had a fairly easy transition into grad school. I got a start in research by completing an undergraduate thesis, and was able to continue working in the same lab for my Master’s thesis. Previous experience in the lab definitely lessened the learning curve and eased my transition into grad school when I had to shift to a different area of focus.
While graduate students are required to take fewer credit hours every semester, research quickly fills any free time. Research in grad school is definitely more demanding than an undergraduate program, and I am lucky that I picked an area I’m very interested in and excited about pursuing. It makes a really big difference in terms of motivation and determination when you work on something you’re passionate about.
Last year, I also joined the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) Petroleum Division Collegiate Council to learn more about the oil and gas industry. I met so many amazing people within this program, and I am very excited to continue working with them in the next year! If you’re interested in this program, I strongly recommend applying! For more information, I previously posted a blog
describing my experience.
In addition to my classes, research, and the Collegiate Council, I ran my first half marathon! Exercise has always been a second-tier priority in my life, but I always felt more relaxed and focused when I worked out regularly. I wanted to have a goal to work towards that was not school related that would pull me away from my desk, and that’s why I decided to run the BCS Marathon and Half Marathon. The race benefits Mercy Project, an organization working to end child slavery in Ghana, and The Down Syndrome Association of the Brazos Valley.
Overall, the race was a wonderful, uplifting experience! Now that I’ve started running and working out regularly, I plan to continue this into the New Year and do more races! For me, running has been a great way to clear my head and take a break from work.
That is my 2016 in a nutshell. There were ups and downs between all of those major events, but overall it was a good year. I will spend the first week of 2017 on a cruise around the Caribbean, pondering what the next year will bring me -- no, instead, I’ll be pondering what I will make of 2017.
I wish you all a very Happy and Prosperous New Year.
Kelsey Fieseler | Mechanical Engineering
is a first-year Master’s student in Mechanical Engineering from Sugar Land, Texas.