New Things I Tried This Semester

As a student, it’s easy to feel like you’re on autopilot and going through each semester, doing more of the same things. I’ve definitely felt that way before, and it’s a draining feeling. But, there’s always new things you can try to keep things interesting and see what you’re capable of. That being said, I was not doing anything like what’s pictured below (I’ll save it for another time). 

Source: Positive World Travel

For example, this semester I decided to become a Teaching Fellow for one of my computer science professors. I would’ve never anticipated taking on this job, but I’m actually really glad I did. The workload wasn’t as bad as I thought it’d be. Plus, helping students out with material I learned a year ago has been a pretty efficient way to refresh my memory. 

Something else that was new for me was taking 15 credits in one semester. In the past, the most I’d taken was probably 13. I was a little hesitant going into the semester, but I think I’ve navigated my work to the best of my ability. It’s definitely been challenging, but I have faith that I’ll be able to take on 15 credits in the fall as well.

As I mentioned in my previous blog post, I dedicated a lot of time this semester to finding a summer internship. This was a first for me because I’d never actually gone through the process of consistently doing applications and interviews during the semester. It wasn’t always easy, but I’m glad I stuck with it.

In all of these cases, I tried something without knowing if it was going to work out. Even though it doesn’t really feel like a big deal to me now, at some point it was. In general, it’s just nice to reflect on a semester as it’s ending. If you really think about it, you’ve probably challenged yourself in some way in the past few months without realizing it.

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Bittersweet Graduation

As this semester is winding down, I wanted to reflect a bit on my experiences at USG in a new program with only three cohorts thus far. The first cohort had five students, the second had two which included me, and the third which began last fall had three. This experience of learning amongst others in such small classes of 5-7 people has offered a unique and special experience for me that has definitely created lasting benefits beyond academic achievement. The intimacy and closeness of these small groups has fostered a sense of community and support that has definitely made a significant impact on me. Which is why, it is very bittersweet to see the first cohort graduate this spring because they became a core component of the biocomputational engineering family.

One, and the main, significant benefit of small classes is the opportunity to form close relationships with classmates and professors. With fewer students in the class, it’s easier to engage in meaningful discussions and develop deeper connections with classmates. We can also benefit from more one-on-one time with the professor, allowing for a more personalized and individualized approach to learning.

Furthermore, small classes create a sense of accountability and responsibility among students. In smaller groups, everyone’s participation and contribution are crucial. We can clearly feel the difference on days where one student ends up missing class. Which also encourages us to take our education more seriously and make an effort to be present and engaged in class at all times. These small classes also provide a more comfortable learning environment for students who may feel overwhelmed or intimidated in larger groups. With fewer people in the class, it’s possible to feel more comfortable asking questions and sharing opinions. This leads to more open and productive discussions, ultimately leading to a deeper understanding of the subject matter. Lastly, the friendships and connections made in these classes last well beyond graduation, providing a strong support system as we navigate our academic and professional careers. 

In conclusion, small classes offer a unique and special learning experience that extends far beyond academic achievement. The intimacy and closeness of this group has fostered meaningful relationships, accountability and responsibility among students, a comfortable learning environment, and a sense of community and support that will last a lifetime. I am very grateful for my BCE family and proud of the first cohort’s completion of the program!

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My Eventful Week

This week has been so busy, and it’s only Wednesday! Anyone else feel like their week is flying by? Don’t worry, you are not alone. And better yet, we only have four more weeks left of the semester!

Federal Career Expo

On Monday, I had the privilege of attending and working the Federal Career Expo at the USG Campus in Building 4. The CIA, FBI, Secret Service, Department of Transportation, and more came to USG to speak to students about the various career opportunities for students of all majors. As I worked at the check-in station, I admired all of the students that were networking with the government employers, and I felt inspired! It’s always great to cheer others on as they take advantage of the resources offered to them at USG. I later went on to help at the headshot station with my fellow ambassadors: Diane Dao, Bryan Argueta, and Kevans Faustin! I could not have gone through the busy day without these three. We helped others while we helped one another and I was taken over with a sense of gratitude to work with such empowered people, and I’m even luckier to call them my friends. Although there were a few bumps in the road, we collectively motivated one another and extended our best attention to those around us. To end the day, we had the opportunity to take professional headshots and they came out beautifully!

(Left to Right): Bryan Argueta, Kevans Faustin, & Myself
(Not captured): Diane Dao

Pitch Dingman Competition

Last night, I attended the Pitch Dingman Competition at the UMD College Park campus with my Southern Management Leadership Program cohort. It was my first time attending the competition, and I can’t wait to attend it again next year! They served delicious popcorn, lemonade, and outstanding networking opportunities with the judges, pitchers, and the Smith School Associate Dean, Joe Bailey! Kudos to all of the pitchers and their dedication to execute entrepreneurial ventures in only five minutes and a big congratulations to all of the winners!

Pitch Dingman Finals Competition at the Samuel Riggs Center at UMD College Park

Upcoming Events at USG

As the end of the semester is quickly approaching, I encourage everyone at USG to attend up to 3 events in the next month. Take the time to meet new people, engage with those outside of your program, and enjoy the fun activities at USG. There are a few birdies around campus chirping about award ceremonies next week, you won’t want to miss them!

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5 things I look forward to on Eid 

After a month of fasting and reflecting on all the blessings that have been given to us, the festive mood for Eid is one that soon approaches. Every year, these are some of the things that I anticipate the most:

Wearing new clothes

One of the joys of waking up on Eid is the prospect of trying on new clothes that I had specifically set aside for this special occasion. Matching salwar kameez with colorful earrings and sandals is one of the best things about the day. 

Going to everyone’s houses 

Sometimes we don’t even need an invite. A lot of my relatives’ places are like an open house where everyone is invited to enjoy good food and entertainment. We talk, laugh, and compliment each other’s outfits (again clothes are very important on this day!) 



On the night before, sitting around with my cousins and applying mehndi on our hands is so much fun! We play desi music and take turns drying our hands so that the mehndi doesn’t end up on sofas or walls. 

Eidi (money) 

I know I’m not the only one who anticipates the Eid money from my parents, relatives and especially grandparents. It’s like our birthday came early. It’s always been a tradition for the older generation to give gifts in the form of money to kids and children as a show of their love. 

The Food!! 

I saved the best for last, obviously. I think one of the most notable aspects in South Asian culture is the food. From appetizers to main courses to desserts, every dish is made with flavors so delightful that my taste buds salivate from just thinking about them. Hot samosas, delicious biryani, sweet misti, these are only some of the items that are made on this special day. 

Source: Archana’s Kitchen

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Finding Community as a Muslim

When I first arrived at USG as a student last August, I saw several Muslim students on campus on the first day of school and felt a sense of happiness seeing students like me at school. As the school year went on, I saw more students whom I would give salaams (Islamic greetings) and even have conversations with them. 

As we near the end of the semester, Muslims will also reach the end of the month-long period of fasting and spiritual growth. I’ll be honest and say that this Ramadan has been a bit of a challenge, yet despite this, I can definitely say this has been one of, if not the best Ramadan I had in years. 

This Ramadan has taught me a few things about myself that I hope to take away with me when the month is over. One of which is the importance of community. Last night, USG had a Ramadan Iftar Party where a few students organized the event. Shaykh Chad Earl from the Islamic Center of Maryland gave a talk to the students in attendance. 

A white dry-erase board with “Ramadan Iftar Party” in black marker (Source: Aisha Sowe)

Most of the students were Muslims, but there were non-Muslims as well which was good to educate about the holy month as well as Islam in general. After the talk, the students broke their fast and prayed Maghrib, which is the evening prayer. We then had iftar, which is basically the dinner we eat after fasting.

A table with four trays of food and yogurt and tamarind sauce. From right to left are trays of assorted fruits, samosas, chicken patties, and salad (Source Aisha Sowe).

The food was really good and most of all, I really loved how the turnout went! I got to know a few people within the USG Muslim community. One of my Ramadan goals was to try and be more involved with the Muslim community in the DMV and I can definitely say that because of this Ramadan, that goal is slowly coming to fruition.

I’m glad that I got to go to the Iftar Party so that I can be more involved with the Muslim community on campus. Going to these events helps me realize how grateful I am to have a welcoming community at school during Ramadan. I hope to continue finding my community as a student and as a Muslim!

With that being said, I hope these final days of Ramadan are rewarding, and Eid Mubarak in advance! 

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One of Those Weeks

Sometimes things just don’t go as planned. Especially when it comes to school, challenges can arise out of the blue. For me, this week has been a real swing and a miss. Monday, I studied for a test but ended up doing poorly. Tuesday, my lab experiment results were unusable, and I had to dedicate a few more hours to redoing the lab. These results, too, were unpromising, so I had to come in on Wednesday to try and see if the “third times the charm” statement applied here. It did not.
The reason the results need to be good is because they are vital for my Thursday lab experiment. Thankfully, my professor made enough solution in his experiment for me to use for Thursday. But by relying on my professors results to carry on the experiment, I ultimately get a failing grade for this lab.
And so today, I find myself walking into the laboratory for the third consecutive day, uninspired and deflated. My fingers are crossed that all will go well this time around, but on the very likely chance that it doesn’t, I am looking forward to attending USG’s Social Night tonight to forget about it. Last semester, the majority of the social events on campus took place during my classes, which was a real bummer. These social events offer students an escape from their busy academic lives and the chance to relax and unwind. And this is exactly what I need right about now. There will be a whole bunch of fun stuff, like a scavenger hunt, dancing, games, and prizes. I’m hoping to win a cake in the cakewalk. At this point, it’s honestly the anticipation of tonight that is powering me through my day and my lab experiment. Wish me luck, as I’ll definitely be needing it.

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USG Events!

This past week I was able to attend multiple USG events that were tons of fun! I highly encourage students to get involved and attend wonderful events, such as the ones I am highlighting. While I recognize it is sometimes difficult due to an overwhelming schedule, these events were really rewarding, and I did not regret going to them! 

The first one was the Pizza & Study: This was an event planned by my fellow DSAC members and I! We knew it was that time of year, where everyone was preparing for finals, and we wanted to create a space where Juniors could gather and connect with pizza! On April 3rd, we were able to get twenty-two students to attend our group study session, which is a win for us!

The second event was the Marketing Discussion Panel: This was an event held on April 4th in the evening. It was a panel of former alumni professionals from Meta and Pompeian that were providing tips for current students at USG! I really enjoyed this event because it was very insightful and provided me with a lot of valuable information about what to expect in the real world when establishing a corporate job!

The third event was the Student Appreciation Carnival: Although I was not able to stay for too long because I had to go to work. This was another event that I really appreciated! It was a great stress reliever after having an exam earlier that afternoon. There was funnel cake, cotton candy, popcorn, carnival games and a petting zoo! I am so glad the rain held off for a while!

I recommend my fellow peers to check events out at USG, because they’re really fun, and there’s a ton going on right now because it’s the spring! I highly recommend people to check their emails and look at boards around school! What really helped me was these events occurred during gaps for me. I recommend my peers to look at their schedule, and even if they can fit one into their schedule, they won’t regret going to it! For me, the first one was during my gap in between classes, and the second one was right after I got off work, during an evening at home. The last one was even more fun, because you were able to invite family members! Hope to see your guys at the next ones!

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My Experience With Internships

Next week, on April 13th, I’ll be speaking at UMBC-Shady Grove’s STEM Symposium. The event is titled, “Internships: Are they worth it? Where Can I Find One?” and it will be held virtually through Webex. I’m super excited to speak on my internship experience and answer questions that participants may have. I’ll be a part of a panel, particularly speaking on my internship last year with the National Weather Service (NWS). The Symposium panel will also have two of my fellow Computer Science students that’ll talk about their own internship experiences.

Source: National Weather Service

In light of this, I thought I could talk about my experience with internships in this blog post. First, internships are worth it. The process of finding an internship can be long and grueling, but I’ve learned two key things. One is that you should never sell yourself short, and second is that you have to keep trying. I applied for my NWS internship back in December 2021, after I’d just finished my last semester at Montgomery College. The internship application was a little intimidating as I had to get references and write a personal statement, among other things. But once again, I had to at least try. 

Source: TryEngineering

The actual internship was a nice way to keep myself busy over the summer while learning a lot about software engineering. It was great to actually be able to apply what I learned in school, make mistakes, and ask questions outside of class. After I finished the internship last summer, I felt that I had really gained new knowledge. 

I can’t believe it’s coming up on a year since I was an intern at the NWS. I spent a lot of time during the fall and spring semester looking for internships, doing interviews, and completing coding assessments. It was overwhelming at times, but my internship-related stress will be over soon! If you’d like to attend the STEM symposium next week, click here

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Why I Love To Travel

For spring break, I went on a cruise to Grand Turk, Dominican Republic, and Bahamas. I have not vacationed in so long due to various reasons such as school, internships, and the pandemic. However, my love for travel never waned, and I found myself constantly searching for exciting travel destinations during any free moment I had. Finding this cruise was an amazing feat, and it was truly such an amazing experience. 

I wanted to use my recent endeavor as my highlight of my blog topic this week- something along the lines of “top reasons why I love to travel”. But amidst drafting it, I realized that I could easily talk about my number one reason forever. The beautiful sights, delicious food, and exciting activities were all unforgettable, but what truly stands out to me is the chance to meet people from all over the world and immerse myself in their cultures. For me, there is nothing quite like it. It’s an incredible feeling to connect with people from different backgrounds, learn about their traditions, try new foods, and explore new places.

Meeting people from different backgrounds and seeing how they live their lives is an incredible experience that allows one to appreciate the diversity of our world and gain a deeper understanding of the human experience. During my cruise, I met people from all over the world. Each person had their own unique story and perspective, and I loved getting to know them. Through these interactions, I was able to gain a new appreciation for the world and the people in it. It was a reminder that no matter where we come from or what our backgrounds are, we are all connected in some way. It also broadens my perspective of my own life with silly little problems being miniscule in the grand scheme of things. There is so much of Earth and as intimidating as that thought can be, it is also very comforting. 

One of my fondest memories from my recent cruise was in the Dominican Republic. I had the opportunity to meet some of the locals and experience their culture. I was able to see how they lived, learn about their traditions and customs, and even try some of their traditional foods. It was an experience that I will never forget.

Another aspect of traveling that I love is the opportunity to see new places. Every destination has its unique charm and beauty, and I feel incredibly fortunate to have been able to witness some of them firsthand. From the crystal-clear waters of Grand Turk to the vibrancy of the Bahamas, each place I visited left me in awe.

In conclusion, my recent trip was a testament to why I love to travel. While there are many reasons why I enjoy exploring new destinations, meeting people from all over the world and experiencing their culture is undoubtedly my favorite. It’s an enriching experience that has allowed me to grow as a person and create unforgettable memories. I truly can’t wait to see where my next adventure takes me!

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12 Hours in My Favorite City

Over spring break, I went on a spontaneous trip to NYC with some of my best friends! The night before the trip, I brought it upon myself to make an itinerary for our time there. From the minute we left my house, we knew we were going to have an exciting day ahead of us. Follow along as I take you through each stop my friends and I made in NYC! 

9:15am: arrive and visit Central Park: walking around Central Park in 60 degree weather felt like a 90s romcom movie. Any You’ve Got Mail fanatics here? 

Central Park

10am: grab breakfast at Bagelworks: Bagelworks was absolutely delicious. I’d have to rate my chicken and veggie sesame bagel sandwich an 11/10! 


10:45am: visit Rockefeller Plaza & the SNL Studio. 

Rockefeller Plaza

11am: visit Times Square: As annoying as it may be to walk through the messy crowd of people and ongoing traffic, I will never get tired of Times Square. My friends and I couldn’t stop singing “Empire State of Mind” by Alicia Keys! 

Times Square

12:30pm: lunch at Amor Loco in Times Square: The guac and chips were amazing, be sure to ask for this if you ever find yourself in the mood for Mexican food in the area

Amor Loco

3pm: walk The High Line & visit the Vessel: Walking on the High Line was pretty cool. It’s an elevated greenway and rail trail created on a former NY Central Railroad spur on the west side of Manhattan. The views on the walk were immaculate and we loved it. 

The Vessel

4pm: visit the Friends Apartment: My best friend Mikayla is a Friends enthusiast, so I had to make sure she could witness it in person! 

Friends Apartment

4:30pm: quick snack at Bleeker Street Pizza in Greenwich Village: 11/10 pizza…wow. 

Bleeker Street Pizza

4:45pm: enjoy pizza & people watch at Washington Square Park: WSP is the perfect spot for people watching, and it was really nice to walk around the NYU campus. 

Washington Square Park

5:30pm: visit Dumbo & sight see the Brooklyn Bridge and the Manhattan Bridge: This is a perfect spot for sightseeing and photo taking. It was nice to see the other side of the city and take in everything Brooklyn has to offer. 

Dumbo carousel with view of Brooklyn Bridge

6:30pm: head to the 230 Fifth Rooftop Bar for dinner: This was probably our favorite spot on the entire trip. We were able to sit outside on the rooftop and enjoy dinner with a breathtaking view of the Empire State Building and the city skyline. I can’t quite describe how perfect and beautiful it was, but here are a few photos that speak much louder than words ever could. 

9pm: head back to MD!

I hope that this inspires you to take an impromptu trip to NYC, and feel free to use my itinerary! Here’s to more trips to the city in 2023.

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