What It’s Really Like to be in the Pullman Community

Billy Leung, Pullman Scholar, University of Michigan, ’16

In my senior year of high school, I remember being constantly stressed trying to figure out how I was going to afford a college education. Thankfully, my high school counselor told me about the Pullman Foundation. With the Pullman Foundation’s generosity and support, I’m glad to say that I have just completed my junior year at the University of Michigan.

The support I’ve received from the Pullman Foundation has been more than just financial assistance; the Pullman Foundation has also provided the resources to help me succeed in and outside the classroom, manage my time effectively, and reach my career aspirations. In addition to using the many resources on the Pullman Foundation’s website, e-mails, LinkedIn blogs, and Facebook page, I had the opportunity to attend the Pullman Scholar Symposium, where I got to meet other Pullman Scholars and Pullman Alumni.

At the symposium, I attended a personal finance crash course, where I learned the intricacies of creating a personal budget, saving for retirement, and building credit. There was also an etiquette seminar, where I was able to learn proper networking and eating etiquette. This came in handy as I had to attend networking events and dinners during my internship search this past fall. Finally, I was able to listen to a panel of four Pullman Alumni speak about their experiences from college to their current careers. After listening to the panel, I was surprised (and relieved!) to learn that life really has a strange way of working out. Some of the alumni ended up in careers related to their college majors while other alumni ultimately ended up in positions completely unrelated to their college majors. The Pullman Alumni taught me that it’s okay to not have the future completely planned out.

Aside from the courses offered at the symposium, my next favorite part was getting to meet the other Pullman Scholars and Pullman Alumni. To be honest, it was a very humbling experience. I got to meet so many Pullman Scholars and Pullman Alumni who were doing and going to do phenomenal things in their lives. Through the symposium, I was able to meet CEOs, future graduate school students, research assistants who were figuring out platelet characteristics in their lab, first-generation college students, and many amazing others. As cliché as it sounds, meeting all these people really showed me that the sky’s the limit with a college education!

The symposium also showed me how amazing of a support network exists within the Pullman Foundation. After speaking to the other Pullman Scholars and Pullman Alumni, I was relieved to find that I was not alone in my struggles with grades, finances, and stress. I learned how others were able to handle such obstacles and ultimately succeed in their college careers. If I have any trouble in my college experience, I know I can always look to the Pullman Foundation’s strong support network for help.

To incoming college students, the key to getting the grades you want in college is a bit of a contradiction: it’s simple and confusing at the same time. Getting high marks in college is simple – go to class and pay attention, go to office hours and get to know your professors, go to the library and study, and go to your exams on time and ace them. The confusing and difficult part of college is trying to do these things for all your classes while also balancing your clubs, jobs, social life, and sanity. Therefore, be prepared for a possible lengthy adjustment period, and make sure you have a support network that you can rely on for advice and help. If you find yourself having issues with time management, take some time to map out every activity for the day from class to sleeping and create a corresponding schedule. You may find that you have more time than you originally thought. Finally, don’t forget to actually stop and enjoy this next stage of your life. The semesters are only going to continue feeling shorter and shorter. Though extremely important, remember that college isn’t just about studying; it’s also about those memories you make when you decide that binge-watching Netflix and eating pizza at 2:00 a.m. with your friends is a great decision.