My journey through the Distinguished Communicator program has broadened my horizons and given me the skills to expand upon the lofty goals I brought with me to LSU. The resources afforded to me as a Distinguished Communicator candidate helped me to transform myself from a shy, quiet high school student into a confident and capable engineer, mentor, and communicator. I discovered that I never actually feared public speaking; I had just never found the things I was passionate speaking about or developed the skills I already had. The holistic education I have received at LSU through the LA-STEM Research Scholars Program, the Honors College, and Communication Across the Curriculum has given me the knowledge, skills, and experience to succeed in a top tier biomedical engineering PhD program.
Building my digital portfolio helped me to set my focus on things coming after graduation from an early date. That perspective guided me to wise choices in course work and projects. I learned how to build websites, design complex parts in 3D engineering software, write successful research proposals, and give effective scientific presentations. This learning process taught me focus and time management, and those skills will be a tremendous benefit in my career in research. The experiences I have had in the Distinguished Communicator program far exceeded anything I could have imagined as an incoming freshman. I have gotten to conduct research in an internationally renowned European laboratory, work alongside pioneering researchers at Harvard University, and win the Goldwater Scholarship, the premier undergraduate research scholarship in the nation.
It would be impossible to give an exhaustive list of every person who has played a role in my successes at LSU and beyond. In this brief space, I would like to thank my research mentor, Daniel Hayes; Isiah Warner, Melissa Crawford, and the rest of the students and staff of the LA-STEM program; Danielle Rand and the rest of my research group at imec; Randy Duran, Jennifer Loftin, and the HHMI International Research Program; David Weitz, Peter Yunker, Kathryn Hollar, and John Free at Harvard University; and, of course, everyone that has been involved with Communication Across the Curriculum during my career at LSU.
To future Distinguished Communicators, take full advantage of the resources that CxC and LSU offers you. Set goals and achieve them, learn new skills, and build lifelong personal and professional relationships with other high achieving students. Above all, enjoy the experience to the fullest, because you only get one chance to be a Tiger.