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As I sat in my Agricultural Economics class at the end of my first semester at Virginia Tech, I watched as the students around me tried, hopelessly, to catch up for the time they had lost over the last semester. Laptop keys were clicking, and pens were scribbling every word that poured from our professor's mouth. I couldn't help but realize my relative calm in what seemed to be mass mayhem occurring around me. As I experienced the same situation in most of my classes that fall as well as the following spring, I realized what an advantage I had over students sitting around me. I was prepared. The learning style used at colleges across the nation had been what I had been experiencing the previous two years in Southwest Virginia Governor's School.
The Governor's School was a blessing that I had no clue about until I hit the end of my first semester of college. It had done much more than teach me how to pass a class. It had taught me that engaging and experiencing in the lessons was a way to absorb the material and not just memorize. It taught me that finding connections between interests formed a stronger building block for both subjects. It taught me to search for an answer and to not simply rely on what is presented at the front of a lecture hall. It taught me that I have more influence than I ever thought possible. It taught me that help is always available. It taught me to go the extra mile and reach for dreams. It taught me that there are limits, but it also taught me how to work with others to overcome them. It taught me to make the most of my time and the people in it. It taught me that every struggle has its reward. It taught me to love learning again. It taught me who I was and who I could become.
My time at SWVGS has influenced not only the past year in my life but also my future plans. I had the time management skills and the confidence to become a Marching Virginian, the Spirit of Tech. I also landed a sought after internship at Tech Lab, a research company in the Corporate Research Center, through my experience gained during my science courses at SWVGS. It allowed me to get a position open mostly to seniors in college. Also, having the credits from Governor's School allowed me to immediately jump into my classes in my major. I will also be able to graduate a year early as well as being able to delve into Latin and music as minors. I also am part of the Honors Community at Virginia Tech thanks to the willingness of all of the professors at SWVGS and their commitment to encouraging and helping us as students to succeed. My two years at SWVGS are hard to put into just a few paragraphs. I learned much more than just academic lessons. I gained many friends and mentors. I will always be thankful for the time I spent at SWVGS.
Because of Southwest Virginia Governor's School, I felt prepared to enter a rigorous Integrated Science Curriculum at Virginia Tech. Without SWVGS, I do not think I would have been accepted into the Integrated Science Curriculum. I would not have had the background or experience in science to participate in the program. SWVGS sparked my interest for science to a different level than I would have experienced at my home high school because of the hands-on learning, laboratories, and amazing teachers who are passionate about the areas they teach. Because of the structure of the Governor's School, SWVGS gave me the confidence to speak up in classes and ask questions to professors. Before coming to SWVGS, I rarely felt challenged or had to study for classes. SWVGS's courses challenged me and taught me how to think critically. I learned new study habits, which I have found helpful and still use today in my courses at Virginia Tech. The material covered in my Integrated Science Curriculum course related to topics that I learned at SWVGS. My professors at Virginia Tech would often ask if anyone had prior knowledge of the topics, and many students who took regular high school classes or advanced placement courses had not covered the topics in depth like I had at SWVGS. I am so grateful for the knowledge I gained at SWVGS because I know that I would have been behind in my courses in the Integrated Science Program and in other courses at Virginia Tech.
Attending SWVGS gave me opportunities that I would have never been exposed to as a high school student. For example, science fair at SWVGS teaches students how to use research methods and report scientific findings. I found many of the techniques and material covered in science fair to be helpful in my laboratory classes within the Integrated Science Program at VT, which focused on research. While at the Governor's School, I had the opportunity to do an internship at Virginia Bioinformatics Institute, which is on the Virginia Tech campus. This opportunity provided me with connections and allowed one of my professors to learn that I was serious about science and a future in the genetics field. SWVGS gave me the opportunity to learn how to manage my time by taking college courses at SWVGS along with taking classes at my home high school and participating in extra-curricular activities. This made my transition to college easier. I learned that having the prior knowledge of those courses from SWVGS helped me excel in at Virginia Tech. The Southwest Virginia Governor's School helped me feel prepared to continue my academic career in college.
As an Environmental Resources Management major at Virginia Tech, I came to appreciate the training in research methods and laboratory techniques that I received at the Southwest Virginia Governor's School. These have been some of the most useful skills that I have taken with me to college at Virginia Tech. I appreciate every bit of work and effort that SWVGS teachers invested to help me find and understand the primary research journal articles that I used to support my SWVGS senior science project. I am graduating with a degree in Environmental Resources Management this fall, and I know my time at Virginia Tech has been more enjoyable and beneficial because of the knowledge of research instilled in me at the Governor's School.