Honors sophomore Angela Brown forged a new path when she chose Illinois State.

“I’m the first in my family to go to ISU,” Brown said. “To me, it was close to home but far enough away that I still feel independent. Campus is as big as you want it to be, or as small as you want it to be.”

Brown chose the medical lab science major because she enjoys health, medicine, and the healthcare field, but knew she didn’t want to be on the “front lines.” “I enjoy helping others, and science is very interesting to me,” Brown said. Brown would like to work in a hospital lab someday, ideally in a larger hospital setting in the Chicagoland area. “The health sciences staff have been great,” Brown says. “It’s a small major, and I know the faculty are there if I need them.”

Brown began her collegiate experience in Honors Mindset Seminar, a class for students who are in their first semester in the Honors Program. “The seminar answered a bunch of questions I didn’t even know I had,” Brown said. “I had a better understanding of what Honors is, what I can get out of it, and what I can put into it.”

In the spring of her freshman year, Brown took an Honors Section of COM 110. “It was a lot better than I expected,” Brown said. “The teacher didn’t force us to be a certain type of communicator.  She nurtured what was already there, so that was very comforting and made the experience not as nerve-wracking as it could have been.”

Brown also participated in Honors Alternative Spring Break that semester. Students went to New Orleans and worked with Junior Achievement to teach financial literacy skills to young students.

“For me, it was the turning point of my freshman year,” Brown said. “Up until then, I was just going through the motions.” Brown enjoyed being surrounded by a like-minded, yet diverse group of dedicated students.

“We weren’t consumed with technology and school,” Brown said. “We were all together over spring break and doing service, and that developed close friendships and relationships.”

The 2019 trip to Memphis will be in partnership with Living Lands and Waters, an organization focused on water and environmental conversation efforts. Brown has now tackled the role of trip leader, which she says is more responsibility, but she reaps more benefits as a result.

“It’s nothing I can’t handle. I like seeing the ins and outs of how everything works,” Brown said. “It’s a team effort among all the Trip Leaders. We have our own responsibilities, but we also jump in and do whatever is needed.”

The sophomore admits there was a learning curve her freshman year, and she is glad to now be on the other side of it.

“I came in as a typical Honors student wanting to do it all,” Brown said. “There are a lot of people in your ear telling you what you should do, but you have to figure out what you can handle. I had to put my ego aside and decide what I could and couldn’t do.  It’s important to know your limits because college gets really real, really quick.”

Brown now feels confident juggling all of her responsibilities and has some advice for incoming students.

“Stay on top of your work and use your resources. A lot of things are available to you. You just have to know where to find them.  Get to know your academic advisor,” Brown said. “And check your email!”