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Fellow Students Share How They Plan to Start Out Strong

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Taylor Peña eagerly unfolds her neatly organized accordion folder before her second class of the day.

Taylor Peña eagerly unfolds her neatly organized accordion folder before her second class of the day.

Shealeigh Voitl

Shealeigh Voitl

Taylor Peña eagerly unfolds her neatly organized accordion folder before her second class of the day.

Shealeigh Voitl, Managing Editor

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A new school year has commenced, and like many, you’re hoping to gather the tools necessary to succeed from beginning to end. It can be intimidating to find your footing at the start of a semester and navigate classes that feel unfamiliar; you’re not alone.

Shruti Bakre, 21, was a part of a study abroad program in her junior year of college through Beloit College located in southern Wisconsin, and she quickly realized that it would take some time to adjust.

“It was difficult because there was so much more going on around me compared to [home],” Bakre said. “At the beginning, I was trying to get my bearings in a new place while also making friends rapidly, because I didn’t know anyone.”

Bakre had to soon come up with a plan in order to not only remain on task in terms of schoolwork but also enjoy her brief time in a fascinating new country, which was Cuba in her first semester and Argentina during her second.

“I would search for activities in the city that I knew I was going to really enjoy, like little music shows, art shows, and fairs,” Bakre said. “And I’d be motivated to finish [schoolwork] so that I could attend those things and spend the day doing only that.”

Taylor Peña, a first-year student, started at Elgin Community College back in August, and with the help of her trusty royal purple accordion folder and thorough calendars, she’s managed to stay on track so far. Much like Bakre, Peña stays motivated by the things that are waiting for her when she gets out of the classroom.

Taylor Peña eagerly unfolds her neatly organized accordion folder before her second class of the day at ECC. Photo taken by: Shealeigh Voitl

“I really want to go far in softball,” Peña said. “So that encourages me to do better, especially since I have to do well in school in order to stay on the team.”

Peña understands that, while it may not always be easy, knowing when to ask for help is crucial.

“I feel kind of awkward asking for help sometimes,” Peña said. “All of my classes are really quiet, but I’m not really a shy person so when I have to ask a question, I do.”

Vaneza Caballero, a second-year student, has also realized the importance of seeking out and using resources available on campus. She tries to surround herself with people that consistently encourage her to meet her goals and lend a helping hand when an academic crisis arises.

“I took a science course over the summer,” Caballero said. “My entire table and I had a common goal, which was to get into the nursing program [at ECC], and they helped me so much.”

Caballero, like most, hits rough patches during the year wherein she feels discouraged by her progress in relation to where she ultimately hopes to be. She often stops to remind herself of something that many students desperately need to hear.

“I sometimes have to say to myself, ‘You’re going to figure all of it out,’” Caballero said. “It’s not a race. You’ll get there.”

As a result, Caballero aims to uplift herself pretty frequently throughout the year.

“Confidence is something that I struggle with, and I know a lot of other people struggle with as well,” Caballero said. “I have to celebrate the little victories along the way.”

About the Contributor
Shealeigh Voitl, Managing Editor

My name is Shealeigh Voitl, and I am a second-year student studying journalism here at ECC. I've really enjoyed being able to learn more about my community...

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