Celeste Acosta is a Molecular and Cellular Biology major at the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign. Read on to learn about her first year at UIUC, and her views on being a Pullman Scholar!
My parents always emphasized the importance of going to college – especially because they were not able to go themselves. College has always been the place where I would expand my knowledge about the world and people, both in the classroom and beyond. As a first-generation college student, attending college also drew a sense of fulfillment and achievement for myself and my family. It’s one step to obtaining a life-long career.
My hobbies include photography, listening to music, dancing, and journaling. A lot of my hobbies bring out my creative side since I study STEM related things in school.
I’ve always liked taking pictures of moments that I know I’ll cherish for a long time. This is the main reason why I always run out of phone storage. Listening to music from different eras and different languages is something I love to do. Good music always makes my day better. I used to be a dancer from the ages of 3 to 11. It’s always been a part of me that I can’t let go, despite not performing in such a long time. Journaling is one of those things that I don’t do consistently but when I do, I gain a lot of mental clarity by writing out what I truly feel and why.
My favorite aspect of college is finally being in control of my education and falling in love with learning again. It sounds a bit strange, but I love having the freedom to learn what I am truly interested in and discovering even more interests through that. It’s a feeling that I haven’t had since elementary school. I also love meeting new people and making friends that have similar interests as me.
If I could describe my first semester experience it would be a trial-and-error experience. I felt like I was constantly adjusting to the environment and to the pace of college level classes. For a majority of the semester it was quite overwhelming. However, I learned a lot about what works for me academically and what I have to do personally to be at my best and put in my full effort into my studies. Overall, first semester was a huge learning experience and it definitely prepared me well for second semester.
The thing that I love about being a Pullman Scholar is the sense of community and connection. Not only do I feel connected to my Pullman Scholar peers, as some of them also go to my college, but I am connected to other resources that I wouldn’t have learned about through the Pullman Scholar community. I also love the sense of encouragement that I get from other scholars’ achievements throughout their college journey! Being a Pullman Scholar to me means always putting my best foot forward despite any situation and taking initiative when it comes to embarking on a new opportunity. Being part of this community encourages me to become the best version of myself in order to one day give back to others.