L.O.V.E College Survival Guide Series: Meet Isioma Orewa

The response to last week’s blog was PHENOMENAL. This blog series was created to inspire and give motivation to our ladies in college.

Next up……Meet Isioma “Monica” Orewa (aka the caterpillar turned butterfly)! Monica graduated from Howard University (December 2014) with a BS in Psychology. For most going away for college is the first chance of 100% freedom…..but do you know how to use it? When I first met Monica she was so different from me, I would have NEVER THOUGHT 6 years later she would be one of my closest friends. I decided to include Monica because her transformation was CRAZYY! (like seriously she went from a pre-med geek to a bomb marketing associate!) This is for the timid girl entering college….you definitely want to pay attention.

 

Isioma Orewa

As an incoming freshman we all have these expectations of what college life should be, how we are going to reinvent ourselves…etc. What were your initial college expectations and how did your actual experiences compare? 

I was ready for a complete revamp! From the girl that had never been to a high school party to someone that was going to take full advantage of the freedom. I was going to go to parties, travel, and go to New York as much as possible once I found out about the megabus. Wakeup call!……It was absolutely not what I expected. After first semester, the library was my second home, I probably spent more time there than my actual room. The social life I thought I was going to have was replaced with research positions, internships, class and school clubs.  

What was your hardest transition from high school to college?

Learning how to study. In high school I memorized enough to spit it back out on the test. College, I was in class learning about items that I still had to put to use a few hours later at a research position I had. At that point it wasn’t a matter of how much of this can I remember, but how am I going to retain this best so I don’t mess up one of my supervisors experiments.

What advice/tips would you give your freshman self? 

  • Switch to the major you are really passionate about or that really keeps your attention when reading. You are going to have to do this for a loooong time!
  • Meet as many new people as possible throughout school, especially freshman year.
  • Get the best grades you possibly can first semester, let it set the tone for the kind of college career you want.
  • Keep yourself surrounded by smart people who have different backgrounds and different opinions than you. That is the key to growth.
  • Get involved in school early!
  • This isn’t exactly what I would tell myself but advice I would give former classmates:

“DON’T BE THE FRESHMAN WEEK CAMPUS HOE”…..trust me people remember EVERYTHING from freshman week no matter HOW MUCH YOU TRY TO REINVENT YOURSELF. ALL ATTENTION ISN’T GOOD ATTENTION!

For a lot of kids college is their first time having 100% freedom, which can be a good or bad thing. You came from a more strict household how did you adjust to being on your own, did you have any downfalls?

                 “College was the test of freedom that I didn’t know I needed.”

The freedom was overwhelming and I didn’t really take advantage of it until well after graduation. When you think of freedom, I’m sure what comes to mind is the ability to go out whenever and wherever you want but that’s such a tiny piece of it. Freedom is making your own choice and taking responsibility for them. Not leaning in on the opinions of family and especially friends all the time. You will make mistakes at school; it’s designed for that! Try the things that you’ve been curious about. You may get the side eye or people telling you that you aren’t qualified to do it but you have to go after what you want.

My greatest downfall if anything, was not pushing myself to make my own decisions and take responsibility; I leaned in on my parents quite a bit for approval. 

In your opinion, besides classes what was an obstacle you had to face in college and how did you overcome it?

Learning to speak up! Whether it’s for speaking up for yourself to a roommate or being honest about the things you want, you have to be bold about your lifestyle. I took that lightly, I figured, if I make good grades and mind my business then my work can speak for itself and people won’t bother me. Absolutely not!

1)   There are people who are just as smart or smarter than I am here, we all aren’t going to just “make it” because of good grades. I started reaching out to people in fields I felt I could model my career after and going to conferences where I could learn more. The worst anyone can tell you is no; if they do keep on moving. Never put all your eggs in one basket.

2)    You will meet people that have a natural inclination to see how far they can push you, especially quiet people. I learned that the hard way freshman year with a difficult roommate situation. A place where I would normally stay quite to maintain peace I had to push back. It didn’t end peacefully, but I was at peace with myself knowing I hadn’t been a pushover.

How did you deal with pressure from family?  

I didn’t well at first. I would avoid phone calls if I could since I was out of state. On one hand I have my parents so proud that I’m going off to college, telling their friends and family that I am pursuing medicine. I was on the right path to live the stable “American Dream” that we left Nigeria for in the first place. On the other I was miserable in my major looking at the next 10 years as a trap rather than the great opportunity that it really was.

Can you describe why you chose your major and career path? Has it ever changed throughout college if so why?

I am from a family full of doctors, so naturally the idea had always been you’re going to be pre-med and go to med school. That was great and all in theory, but when I actually got there it was difficult. Not the classes, but pursuing something I knew I didn’t want to do.

However, I pushed through because I didn’t want to disappoint anyone. I went through college all four years with a pre-med focus and though I switched from bio to psychology, I honestly didn’t start into the field that I wanted to until two years after graduation.

Weirdly enough, I really changed my major after I graduated. I wanted a career in business; the huge field with high risk, no specific outlined path and little stability and I love it!

Besides the degree of course, what is the most important thing you believe a person should take away from their college experience? 

Experiences. College is going to be one of the greatest times of your life if you let it be, try new things! This is the only way to figure out what you like and quite frankly who you are.

What is the one thing you regret about your college experience?

Not taking the leap to go after what I really wanted.  I started my real field after I graduated. Had I stepped up to the plate and changed my major during school I would be better equipped for everything I am pursuing now. Which is why I push my sisters and anyone I meet in school to go after what you really want to do, you have to live with the consequences of your education!

Monica 2