"You have to be as hungry for knowledge as you are for food."
My first day of classes at Drexel, I sat down at a desk that had this message inscribed in it. I don't normally put much thought into proverbs, but as my Chemistry 101 professor walked in and started to introduce himself, I couldn't pay attention. I kept thinking about this quote. I pulled out a notebook and quickly jotted it down before moving over a few seats so I could pay attention, and it has stuck with me ever since.
I'm Sam Kulesa. When I'm not busy being emotionally moved by weird things strangers write on desks, I'm a junior studying Materials Science and Engineering. I also serve in a residence hall as a Resident Assistant, compete on Drexel's Triathlon Team, and take lots of pictures of myself that I Photoshop together to make it seem like I have a clone army.
I grew up in a tiny, quiet, suburban town in central New Jersey called Martinsville, and I think I was probably the definition of average. I put an amount of effort into school I would characterize as "mild," I had a job at a pizzeria, and on Friday nights I would hang out with my friends and complain there was nothing better to do in our town, which we incorrectly called "washed-up."
And then I came to Drexel, and something changed in me. Maybe it was who I was surrounded by, maybe it was something in the air, or maybe it was that quote I saw on the first day. For whatever reason, I was determined not to spend the next five years being average — and so I joined student organizations, I started training with a club sports team, I started volunteering time in a research lab, I learned to navigate Philly's SEPTA transit system with my friends — all in hopes of not being average.
I continued my quest to not be average in my upperclassmen years, when I completed two co-ops at IFM Efector in Malvern, PA, and Bristol-Myers Squibb in New Brunswick, NJ. Between those co-ops I joined more clubs, explored more of the city, made more friends, and learned a lot more. Reflecting back now, I realize that as hard as I tried, my years at Drexel have not been extraordinary. Indeed, on the surface, I've had almost the same experience all Drexel students have had. If you had told me that at the end of freshman year, I might not have taken it as well. Now, four years later, as a junior, I don't look upon that fact with negativity — I embrace it. I look back on my experience so far with positivity — the fact that my experience has been average just means I have more people with whom I can connect to it.
Sam Kulesa is a fourth-year junior studying Materials Science and Engineering. In his spare time, he trains for triathlons, quotes obscure sitcoms to an annoying degree, and endlessly watches GIFs of puppies while pretending he'll someday be responsible enough to take care of one.