IU 2020 Series: Kendall Gibson

People building a gingerbread house
Everyone comes into college with the goal of earning a degree and learning new skills for their career. However, most people have smaller goals for their time in college.
I began my freshman year with goals to learn as much as possible, make friends, travel, and experience as many new things as I could. Looking back on my time at IU so far, it’s amazing how many goals I have accomplished. I’ll receive my degree sooner than I can believe and I’m exploring my options for after graduation. I’ve met people from around the country and across the globe, and I’ve gotten to learn from people who see the world differently from me–and even begun friendships with a few of them that I’m confident will last for the rest of my life. 
IU has given me the opportunity to travel. I’ve visited everywhere from the Sierra Nevada Mountains, to North Carolina, to Maine, to the Caribbean–all for class credit! I have taken as many opportunities to try new things as I could handle and through this, I have grown both personally and academically. At IU, I have taken opportunities to hike weekly, research geomorphology and present my research at a geology conference, attend incredible musicals and other performances, learn how to build shelters and fires through a wilderness survival course, live on my own for the first time, and so much more.
My time at IU has given me so much. My three biggest pieces of advice to incoming IU students would be:

1. Make your IU experience your own.

Everyone’s college experience is different, so don’t be afraid to make yours what you want it to be. When I first started college, I joined nearly a dozen clubs and tried to make a huge group of friends because that’s what I thought I was supposed to do. Now, instead, I’m in just a few student organizations that I care deeply about and I have just a few very close friends. I’m so much happier now that I’m experiencing college exactly how I want to instead of how I feel like I should.

It’s always nice getting to ski while taking a class trip to the Volcanoes of the Sierra Nevada.

2. Use your resources– and don’t be afraid to ask for help.

Everyone says to go to office hours and get to know your professors and ask for help, but it really is important. IU has tons of resources to help you out, from tutoring to career planning and beyond. It’s never too early to start, and I wish I had taken advantage of these resources sooner. Getting to know your professors may be intimidating, but they’re a lot of help as you’re navigating college and beginning your career and they want to help you succeed. Go to your school’s career center and career events, even as a freshman. It’s never too soon to just check out a career fair or learn more about jobs you can get with your major–and maybe you’ll even find new opportunities along the way!

3.  Take opportunities.

IU has so much to offer, and a lot of the opportunities you get here are really unique. Take the time to join student organizations related to your passions. Take a class just because you know nothing about the subject. Go listen to a famous speaker on campus, or go to that free performance. The little things are what make your college experience so impactful and educational, so do what you can to expand your horizons while you’re here. When else will you get to learn about linguistic anthropology or stand on your feet for 36 hours to support a children’s hospital?
I’m excited to begin my final year of my undergraduate degree at IU. I’m taking classes that I’m interested in, living with great friends, completing research that I find fascinating, and soaking in my final year of exploring Bloomington. After graduation I will either begin a job–hopefully in the realm of environmental consulting or hydrology–or I will stay at IU to get my master’s degree in Information Systems through Kelley. I’m not sure exactly what my life and career will look like after college, but I know that IU has prepared me for wherever life takes me.
Kendall Gibson head shot
Kendall Gibson

Kendall is a senior studying geology and anthropology in the Department of Earth & Atmospheric Science. She’s one of 12 Indiana University students featured in the IU 2020 Series, a four-year documentary film produced by student interns in the Office of the Provost for the IU Bicentennial.

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