Monday, May 17, 2010

Defining Ourselves

This is what I would have wrote about if I had decided to write a speech for Baccalaureate instead of singing.

Who are you? How do you define yourself? It's a question asked of us even when we don't realize it. And throughout our lives, we have been defined in many ways.

Before I was born, I was already defined- as the child of my parents. Approximately 22 years and 2 months ago, on March 20, 1988, I was born- and defined again, as a girl- a daughter. 20 years ago, I acquired another definition- "older sister". These are ways that not only I define myself, but others, and these definitions are the root of who I am. A daughter, and a sister.

As I went through school, I was defined as a "nth grader", and very much defined in my family as "smart". I was a Catholic High School student. A best friend. As I began to experience music and discover my talents, I was a singer, a pianist.

When I entered WPI, I became "a college student". "An Electrical and Computer Engineering major". In my sophomore year, I became a Brother of Alpha Phi Omega. That same year I gained a new nickname- Jonathan's girlfriend.

Throughout my elementary and middle school years, it was rare for people outside of my family to call me Nikki- I was almost always referred to as Nicole in school. As I started to go through high school, I realized that the name Nikki seemed to fit me better, it was a more fun name than Nicole and I saw myself (and still see myself) as a fun person. Some of my WPI professors would call me Nicole, but at this point, there are people who didn't know at first (*cough Jonathan cough*) my actual name.

Now I've graduated. I'm no longer defined as a student of Electrical and Computer Engineering. I'm defined as an Electrical and Computer Engineer. I'm no longer defined as a WPI student, I'm defined as a WPI alumna. A graduate. A Bachelor of Science.

Some of the ways I define myself will never change. Daughter, sister, APO Brother, cousin, granddaughter, niece. I will acquire new definitions that will stay with me forever- eventually I will become a wife, a mother. Even my name will change.

But right here, today, without a job or any plans in the foreseeable future, I'm having a hard time figuring out how to define myself. As many ways as I know how to, right now, I just can't wait for my next definition.


Sunday, May 2, 2010

4 years ends in 2 days

Tonight, I prepare for my last 2 days as an undergraduate student. I think about the past 4 years I've spent here at WPI.

October 2005 I first visited WPI's campus for their Open House. It was a rainy day, but I was intrigued and overwhelmed by everything I had to take in, touring the campus. It's amazing, to this day I remember the way I saw campus that day, and for the life of me cannot figure out where I was- campus was completely foreign. But I felt something click.

December 2005 I submitted my application to my guidance counselor- she would compile and send out the 3 applications.

End of January 2006 I received my acceptance letter, complete with merit scholarship letter.

End of March 2006 I sent in my deposit to officially be in the WPI Class of 2010.

Mid-April 2006 I arrive on campus for the second time, for the closer look open house. A beautiful sunny day, I realize I made the right decision.

June 2, 2006 I cantored the Baccalaureate Mass..

June 4, 2006 I walked across the stage and received my high school diploma.

August 20, 2006 I arrive at Institute Hall to move in and meet my roommates for the first time- we got along pretty well I might say.

Freshman year was amazing and terrifying. Classes were different than I had ever taken, they were faster, more intense and people at school were more intense about them. I questioned my major when I took my first ECE class. I nearly joined a sorority, but decided against it. I wore a goat suit, I met tons of people, and I met Jonathan this year. I was dating someone else at the time, but he intrigued me. We actually met by accident- neither of us had time to check our email before our 12:00 ECE class, so we both went though it was canceled, and started talking. We talked online for the rest of the school year and summer.

Sophomore year, I arrive on campus August 20, 2007, ready to move into Founders Hall and start a new year fresh (and single). Jonathan had offered to help me move into Founders, which I graciously accepted. By the time we were 2 weeks into school, we were a couple. Also during that first week, we had signed up for Alpha Phi Omega, the community service fraternity. Little did I know how the first 2 weeks of sophomore year would change my life forever. The rest of the year is a bit of a blur, pledging APO, NRing my first class (on purpose), having my first 2 APO littles, having to rearrange my schedule at the last minute because of NRing that class, and landing my Cisco internship. The school year ended with me, Jonathan and another friend of ours moving me out of Founders and into my new apartment really quickly, so we could get to the APO retreat.

Junior year was really eventful. The summer before I had spent living here near school to work at Cisco. The year started relatively mildly, with me retaking the class I had NRed in the previous spring along with 2 other classes. In this year, I applied for off-campus MQPs, got denied, then got accepted, started and completed my IQP, dealt with Jonathan having to move super quickly because of an apartment issue, and missed a week of classes due to the flu. I was also the historian for APO in the spring, and I went to the APO National Convention in December- the most amazing experience of my life. This year was the first time I had a term without any C's- and it happened twice, B and C terms!

Senior year started off amazingly- I was finishing my music minor, which I completed in A term, the only term I've ever gotten straight A's. I was Membership Vice President of APO in the Fall semester, which was a huge responsibility which I loved. I NRed another class on purpose- with the professor's blessing, got accepted to graduate school, went away to Silicon Valley, CA for 9 weeks and came back still with my relationship intact and my MQP totally finished, with an A! I'm ending my last 2 days finishing up an ECE lab and taking a Physics exam.

I've changed a lot in the past 4 years, but I think I've figured out who I am and where I want to go. I still don't have a job (which I hate because I'm kind of a control freak) but I'm hoping for one soon.

And to add to my timeline:

May 4, 2010- my last day of classes at WPI.

May 14, 2010- I sing at the Baccalaureate Ceremony.

May 15, 2010- I walk across the stage on the quad and receive my Bachelor of Science in Electrical and Computer Engineering with a Music Minor.

???????????- I get married.

????????????- My first child is born.

(Hey, a girl can dream right?)