Blue Ridge Undergraduate Research Conference

I knew that when I came to college that it would be the perfect time to try new things and become a more well-rounded student, so I was determined to take advantage of this opportunity. I made a promise to myself to do at least one big thing that scares me each semester. This did not have to be anything extreme like going skydiving or trekking through the Amazon, although the latter would be cool! Rather, I needed to do something new that I am either nervous about doing or would normally never consider doing before. I came up with this new rule for myself when I learned about the Blue

Baby sea otters are a soft spot of mine.

Baby sea otters are a soft spot of mine, so it’s natural that they would be part of a plan to make me try new things!

Ridge Undergraduate Research Conference (BRURC) from one of my professors. I didn’t know what it was, but I knew I needed and wanted to get experience with research and get my name out there as early as possible. I may only be a freshman, but time runs out very quickly and there’s too much life out there to just passively live.

It was decided. I would start off on a different foot with a project that I affectionately named (Don’t laugh!) OTTERS: One Terrifying Thing Every Remaining Semester. I have a deep love for acronyms and otters, so the two naturally went together! The first step on this journey, I knew, had to be something big. One of my biggest fears is public speaking and, despite absolutely not wanting to voluntarily put myself in a situation in which I would have to do so, I started working on a project that I would present at BRURC.

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The Chamber of Secrets – a.k.a. Your Professor’s Office


Being able to speak Parseltongue is not a requirement!

As most of you already probably know, I thrive on being in small classes and one-on-one attention from professors is priceless to me. While I am only a freshman, I have already had classes with just three students in them. , including me. Even my “worst case scenarios” involve me being in classes with fifteen or so students, so it never is unbearable for me. However, even with such small classes, a little extra guidance or help with an assignment is almost always needed. Asking a professor in class may not be your forte or asking for help with something after class may not be the most opportune time. After all, LMU is a busy place! Chances are, your professor has something going on after your class or you have something else that is occupying your own time. Using office hours is often the best way to get one-on-one attention from your professors, even though it may feel a little intimidating at first. Entering their offices for the first time may make you feel like you’re Harry Potter first entering the Chamber of Secrets. But instead of finding a basilisk on the other side, you will find, as cliche as it sounds, a ton of resources you may have otherwise not have known about!

When I attended Governor’s School in the summer of 2012 (which you can read about here!), a lot of adjusting had to happen on my part. That was the first time I had ever come across professors. I was fascinated by the fact I called them Dr. “Whatever their last names were” instead of what I called them in my years of education leading up to that point. It was a little intimidating, I’ll admit. These people were serious and I felt like I did not want to waste their time. I soon adjusted to this fact until I found myself wanting a little bit more help in my English class. I wanted to improve my writing, but I had no idea how to ask my professor in such a way that wouldn’t require us to completely stop both of our schedules to formulate an answer. I remembered that both of my professors at UT Martin had given us a list of their office hours and told us to come by if we ever needed anything. I decided to try my English professor’s office hours, so I emailed him, scheduled a specific time for me to come by, and prepared the questions I wanted to ask.

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