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10 New Dragons Discuss Starting at Drexel This Fall

DrexelNow checked in with the new students joining our campus community this fall about their past experiences, future plans, and their hopes and worries about starting their Drexel careers amidst the ongoing pandemic. Pictured: Zoe Boynton

September 02, 2021

As Drexel University looks toward its eminent and valiant return to campus for the start of the fall term and the 2021–2022 academic year, DrexelNow wanted to first check in with the students who will not be returning, but instead joining our campus community for the first time.

 

The incoming class of 2021 is excited and eager to become Dragons, especially after an end to their high school or otherwise formative time in their young adult lives filled with remote learning, missed rites of passage and fear of the pandemic unknown.

 

In the following Q&As, 10 new Dragons discuss their pandemic experiences, plans and hopes for starting at Drexel and excitement for meeting one another at the forthcoming Welcome Week 2021 and beyond.

 

Victoria Miller (entrepreneurship and innovation major)Victoria Miller

Entrepreneurship and innovation major

 

Q: Why did you choose to come to college at Drexel?

 

A: I first became interested in Drexel after doing research on the best undergraduate entrepreneurship programs in the country, and discovering the Charles D. Close School of Entrepreneurship. I also loved the idea of the Drexel Co-op program and thought that Drexel’s practical and ambitious approach to education aligned with what I was looking for in a university.

 

Beyond academics, I chose Drexel because I fell in love with the city of Philadelphia, its rich history and its close proximity to multiple other major metropolitan areas, including New York City and my hometown of Baltimore. Philadelphia also has an emerging market for film and television work. I’ve been doing TV/film acting work for a few years now, so I’m grateful to be in a good location for pursuing that passion!

Q: What are you most excited about regarding your arrival on campus and the start of fall term?

 

A: I’m most excited about getting involved on campus at Drexel and exploring the city of Philadelphia. I’ll be participating in Drexel’s Performing Arts program as well as the Newman Catholic Campus Ministry, among other organizations I’m sure! I am also just excited to start a new chapter of my life and discover more about myself as an individual. I am a triplet in a family of six, so being an independent college student will definitely be a new experience for me!

Q: Are you happy that Drexel will be reopening campus fully for fall term following shutdowns due to the COVID-19 pandemic? What does it mean to you to be able to start your college career in person?

 

A: I am thrilled that Drexel will be reopening its campus! It truly means a lot to me to be able to start my college career in-person. After having a difficult senior year of high school amidst the shutdowns, it makes it even more special to know that I’ll be able to attend class and interact with my peers in-person again.

 

Q: What was the end of your high school career like, regarding ending it amidst the pandemic?

 

A: Like many others in my graduating class, the end of my high school career was completed almost all online. My last day of in-person school before the pandemic was during the winter of my junior year. Despite this, I was really lucky to attend some of the special senior events in-person, including prom and graduation.

Q: Is there anything you are worried about regarding coming to campus for fall term?

 

A: I am not worried about too much regarding coming to campus for fall term, because I am lucky to have had a great high school education and multiple mentors that have helped me prepare for college life. I am a little anxious about adjusting to college life because it’s such a big change from what I’m used to, but I know that it will all work out in the end!

 

Q: Is there anything else you’d like to say to your peers in the incoming class of 2021 about this exciting time?

 

A: Although I am not yet in a place to give too much college advice, I’ve heard from others that it is important for new college students to remember that everyone is experiencing similar emotions at this time in their lives. We are almost all feeling anxious and excited at the same time. While you may feel alone or ashamed if you are struggling to adjust to college life, there are students and University faculty/staff who understand what you are going through and want to help. Never be afraid to ask for help. One of my favorite quotes that I think is perfect for college students is: “Be strong enough to stand alone, smart enough to know when you need help, and brave enough to ask for it.” – Ziad K. Abdelnour

 

Khizar Kashif (data sciences major)Khizar Kashif

Data science major

 

Q: Why did you choose to come to college at Drexel?

 

A: I chose Drexel mainly for two reasons. Firstly, because it is located in the heart of Philadelphia and the opportunities that city has to offer are countless. Secondly, the co-op cycles that provide Drexel students to graduate with 1.5 years of work experience and make it easier to manage finances throughout.

 

Q: What are you most excited about regarding your arrival on campus and the start of fall term?

 

A: As an international student, not only am I extremely excited to arrive at Drexel, but I’m eager to see what Philly has to offer. At Drexel, I’m anticipating a lot of fun, a very fast-paced academic lifestyle (which I absolutely love) and to learn about all sorts of people from around the world. All in all, I’m so thrilled for what is to come and hope that all my expectations are exceeded!

 

Q: Are you happy that Drexel will be reopening campus fully for fall term following shutdowns due to the COVID-19 pandemic? What does it mean to you to be able to start your college career in person?

 

A: Yes!!! I took two gap years after high school to work on myself and so that I didn’t have to take remote classes. So due to that, I’m even more excited to be on campus this fall. I cannot wait to meet all the Dragons on campus.

 

Q: Is there anything you are worried about regarding coming to campus for fall term?

 

A: I would be lying if I said I’m not worried about the COVID-19 delta variant and the uncertainty that follows with it. I’m just really hoping it doesn’t take a whole lot of the freshman year experience away from us.

 

Q: Is there anything else you’d like to say to your peers in the incoming class of 2021 about this exciting time?

 

A: I! AM! SO! EXCITED! TO! MEET! YOU! ALL! I recently also heard that we would have both incoming class of 2021 and the class of 2020 joining us on Welcome Week so I’m super stoked to socialize with all of them and have double the fun!

 

Zoe Boynton (chemistry major)Zoe Boynton

Chemistry major

 

Q: Why did you choose to come to college at Drexel?

 

A: I decided to come to Drexel because I love the programs and how welcoming everyone is. From the staff to the students, Drexel has always been a booming place full of ambitious people that are so caring and uplifting. My mother graduated from Drexel in 1997 so I am a Drexel legacy. Being around a Drexel alum that I looked up to so much inspired me to apply and I was accepted!

 

Q: What are you most excited about regarding your arrival on campus and the start of fall term?

 

A: I am excited to start city life and my career upon my arrival on campus and the start of fall term. Drexel is beautiful and has amazing views of the skyline! As of my career, I am lucky that Drexel is great at pushing students to follow their career goals. I look forward to meeting my professors and building great relationships with them and staff. 

 

Q: Are you happy that Drexel will be reopening campus fully for fall term following shutdowns due to the COVID-19 pandemic? What does it mean to you to be able to start your college career in person?

 

A: I am incredibly lucky that Drexel is opening up in the fall. I am so happy to be able to have a more normal college experience, while taking safety measures. To me, starting my college career in person is important because I get to have the ultimate college experience that everyone dreams of.

 

Q: What was the end of your high school career like, regarding ending it amidst the pandemic?

 

A: At the end of my high school career, I hadn’t been in school for over a year in person. It was difficult not seeing friends, teachers and the staff, but I worked super hard to maintain my 4.0 GPA and was happy that I was accepted to Drexel. As my high school career ended in the pandemic, I aided my city (Dover, Delaware) in COVID-19 relief efforts by donating goods like food, clothes and water. I also helped in a “Blessing Box” project that provided food and water to those struggling in the pandemic.

 

Q: Is there anything you are worried about regarding coming to campus for fall term?

 

A: Overall, I am excited to come to campus. The only thing that I am worried for is being away from family for the first time and the transition from high school to college.

 

Q: Is there anything else you’d like to say to your peers in the incoming class of 2021 about this exciting time?

 

A: To my incoming peers: I cannot wait to start this journey with you all. This year will be a groundbreaking year for us, being able to become college students and beginning our dreams is something amazing! I hope that even though we are still in a pandemic, we can remain safe and represent Drexel [well], because we are all intelligent, powerful, and ambitious, because ambition can’t wait.

 

Jason Gambuzza (biomedical engineering major)Jason Gambuzza

Biomedical engineering major

 

Q: Why did you choose to come to college at Drexel?

 

A: Drexel was my choice due to its diverse culture, its amazing location and the endless opportunities the school provides me.

 

Q: What are you most excited about regarding your arrival on campus and the start of fall term?

 

A: I am thrilled to start new friendships, create a whole new regime for myself and broaden my horizon for the start of fall term.

 

Q: Are you happy that Drexel will be reopening campus fully for fall term following shutdowns due to the COVID-19 pandemic? What does it mean to you to be able to start your college career in person?

 

A: Drexel’s reopening for this year makes me very happy and even more excited to begin with all of my fellow peers. I am extremely grateful to start in person.

 

Q: What was the end of your high school career like, regarding ending it amidst the pandemic?

 

A: Despite the pandemic, I still found joy in little things during my senior year. I made the most of everything and the situation I faced and took advantage of every last high school opportunity.

 

Q: Is there anything you are worried about regarding coming to campus for fall term?

 

A: My only concerns about returning to campus is a possible rise in COVID cases, but I am not worried about it too much.

 

Q: Is there anything else you’d like to say to your peers in the incoming class of 2021 about this exciting time?

 

A: I am beyond excited to meet my fellow peers and make this a great college experience for me and everyone else!

 

McKayla Procopio (first-year exploratory studies major)McKayla Procopio

First-year exploratory studies major

 

Q: Why did you choose to come to college at Drexel?

 

A: I ultimately chose Drexel for the co-op program. When I was accepted into the Pennoni Honors College Honors and STAR Scholars programs, it further solidified my decision to attend Drexel.

 

Q: What are you most excited about regarding your arrival on campus and the start of the fall term?

 

A: I am most excited to meet new people from all over the world. I’m also really excited to meet professors who are willing to share their passions with their students. This year will be a big period of change for all incoming students, but it’s fascinating that we will all be doing this together.

 

Q: Are you happy that Drexel will be reopening campus fully for the fall term following shutdowns due to the COVID-19 pandemic? What does it mean to you to be able to start your college career in person?

 

A: I am very excited to be starting at Drexel in person. However, I don’t want to minimize the risk of the delta variant. I am thrilled to be on campus this fall, even if it means having to wear a mask to protect everyone around me.

 

Q: What was the end of your high school career like, regarding ending it amidst the pandemic?

 

A: The end of high school was tough. Even though we had a graduation ceremony at the school, it never felt that we had a proper goodbye and sendoff. Our classes were hybrid and we no longer had our usual extracurriculars. It was difficult to tackle classes both in school and on Zoom.

 

Q: Is there anything you are worried about regarding coming to campus for the fall term?

 

A: As of today, there’s nothing that is overwhelmingly worrying about the start of college. I have the typical worries of wondering how I’m going to manage all of my classes and balance my social life with my academics.

 

Q: Is there anything else you’d like to say to your peers in the incoming class of 2021 about this exciting time?

 

A: I’m excited to meet my peers and get to know some amazing people!

 

Alexis Aguirre (public health major)Alexis Aguirre

Public health major

 

Q: Why did you choose to come to college at Drexel?

 

A: As I began the college application process, I knew I’d be looking for a very specific fit, school culture, and location. I looked for an institution that met and excelled in these requirements. I chose to attend Drexel University because of its dedicated Dornsife School of Public Health, the Liberty Scholars program, and its location in Philadelphia.

 

Q: What are you most excited about regarding your arrival on campus and the start of fall term?

 

A: As a native of Tucson, Arizona, and having always lived in a midsize, southwestern city, I’m most looking forward to the changing seasons and living in a big city!

 

Q: Are you happy that Drexel will be reopening campus fully for fall term following shutdowns due to the COVID-19 pandemic? What does it mean to you to be able to start your college career in person?

 

A: Although I still have concerns, I’m looking forward to beginning my college experience in-person and am especially grateful to be attending a school with both mask mandates and a COVID-19 vaccination requirement in place. Being able to engage in the experience of being at a great university in a great city is a gift.

 

Q: What was the end of your high school career like, regarding ending it amidst the pandemic?

 

A: Second semester of my senior year was the hardest and most overwhelming part of my life thus far. After the holiday season, my father, and subsequently the rest of my immediate family, tested positive for COVID-19. While my mother and two sisters recovered with minimal symptoms, my father declined rapidly. He was intubated in January and spent five days on a ventilator. However, seven months later, he is home and continuing his recovery; he has also received both doses of the COVID-19 vaccine. Balancing this turbulent family situation, along with finishing college applications, schoolwork and my part-time food service job was very stressful.

 

Q: Is there anything you are worried about regarding coming to campus for fall term?

 

A: As much as I’m excited considering Drexel’s safety measures, I’m still concerned about COVID-19 affecting my first quarter of in-person classes since March of 2020.

 

Q: Is there anything else you’d like to say to your peers in the incoming class of 2021 about this exciting time?

 

A: I would like to commend everyone on their hard work throughout the continued pandemic; this time has been incredibly difficult for everyone and I’m proud of my peers who have, above all else, continued to act and live their lives in the best and safest possible way.

 

Joshua Rowe (finance major)Joshua Rowe

Finance major

 

Q: Why did you choose to come to college at Drexel?

 

A: Drexel was the school with the best combination of academics and financial aid for me. On top of that, there is the excellent co-op program, small average class sizes and access to a great city. Lastly, I knew I would have a great resource in the city with the Greater Philadelphia Church of Christ. 

 

Q: What are you most excited about regarding your arrival on campus and the start of fall term?

 

A: I am most excited about going back to in-person classes and getting into the more nuances and specifics of my major. Before transferring, all of my classes were general business courses for the most part, but now they will be finance-focused. 

 

Q: Are you happy that Drexel will be reopening campus fully for fall term following shutdowns due to the COVID-19 pandemic? What does it mean to you to be able to start your college career in person?

 

A: I am absolutely excited to go back to in-person classes to finish off my degree. During my time at Northampton Community College, I was only able to have roughly one and a half semesters of in-person classes before everything was shut down. The move to online classes was disheartening, but I believe I came out of them a better student compared to before. I am looking forward to the social aspects and sense of community a ton. 

 

Q: What was the end of your time in community college like, regarding ending it amidst the pandemic?

 

A: As a transfer, the end of my associate’s degree felt very plain and uneventful. There is barely any variance in online teaching and it felt like more of a chore compared to a great learning experience. 

 

Q: Is there anything you are worried about regarding coming to campus for fall term?

 

A: I’ve had a lot of issues when it comes to financial aid qualifications because of my transfer status. Outside of that, I am only worried about committing to too many things and ruining a balanced schedule.  

 

Q: Is there anything else you’d like to say to your peers in the incoming class of 2021 about this exciting time?

 

A: Take advantage of all of the resources that are available, especially when it comes to mental health. Reach out to people if you need help: the professors, advisors, tutors and other resources are here so that we can succeed. Lastly, get involved and enjoy yourselves. 

 

Victoria Rodriguez (public health major)Victoria Rodríguez Villarreal

Public health major

 

Q: Why did you choose to come to college at Drexel?

 

A: I chose Drexel because of the academic, professional and extracurricular opportunities available throughout our journey. As a public health major, my ultimate goal is to gather all I have learned through the courses in order to impact this world and grow professionally and personally.  

 

Q: What are you most excited about regarding your arrival on campus and the start of the fall term?

 

A: What I am most excited about starting this fall term is being on campus and making the most of it; I have learned since the pandemic’s beginning that we need to live day-by-day and make our most effort to be the best we can be. Having said all of this, I am thrilled about my classes, meeting new people and volunteering. Additionally, it would be my first time living in another country and being by myself. It will be a challenge at first, but this is just a step to achieve all my goals and dreams.

 

Q: Are you happy that Drexel will be reopening campus fully for the fall term following shutdowns due to the COVID-19 pandemic? What does it mean to you to be able to start your college career in person?

 

A: I am so excited and thrilled to start this college career in person. However, I’m still aware of the COVID-19 pandemic; it is not finished, and I’ll be taking all precautions so that this start is thriving and can be for the subsequent terms. 

 

Q: What was the end of your high school career like, regarding ending it amidst the pandemic?

 

A: The end of my high school career was bittersweet. It was the most incredible three years of my school journey where I met fantastic people and developed all of my professional and personal goals. It was a journey full of lessons, self-realization and, most importantly, growth to be the better version of myself. We all know the pandemic gave us a new challenge in which I learned to never give up, and that no matter how difficult the situation is, we can always do something because the world doesn’t stop, so neither should we.

 

Q: Is there anything you are worried about regarding coming to campus for the fall term?

 

A: I think I am not worried about anything but eager to start this journey already. 

 

Q: Is there anything else you’d like to say to your peers in the incoming class of 2021 about this exciting time?

 

A: We are an inspiring incoming freshmen class finishing our school with a pandemic that changed all of our lives, from changing our routine from one day to the next, perhaps losing someone we love dearly, and many more situations. However, this cannot shed us from the lesson we all got from this, to be always grateful for all we have, desire to be better, and understand that we can all be part of the change in our world. Finally, I want to say that sometimes it takes one’s world falling apart for the most beautiful image to be built up from the broken pieces of remnants; this is how I would describe this process. 

 

Kevin Ponce-Victoria (architecture major)Kevin Ponce-Victoria

Architecture major

 

Q: Why did you choose to come to college at Drexel?

 

A: On my search for schools that would be able to help me achieve licensure, I found that Drexel’s Architecture program would work best for me. Drexel is very career oriented. It’s a six-year program, as well as a part-time evening program, and offers early exposure to architectural practice which will help me on my journey.

 

Q: What are you most excited about regarding your arrival on campus and the start of fall term?

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A: I am most excited about exploring the campus and city! The URBN Center is such a cool space to be in. I am excited to study and learn in that atmosphere and the exposed elements inside the building. When exploring the city, you can see how the historic and modern styles of Philadelphia’s architecture reflect the city’s history.

 

Q: Are you happy that Drexel will be reopening campus fully for fall term following shutdowns due to the COVID-19 pandemic? What does it mean to you to be able to start your college career in person?

 

A: I am pleased to hear that Drexel will be reopening the campus following the pandemic. Many students including myself find online classes to be troubling. I find it easier to ask questions and engage in conversations when being in person rather than online. Being in the architecture field, collaborating is a key element when working on projects and solving problems!

 

Q: Is there anything you are worried about regarding coming to campus for fall term?

 

A: My only worry about going to campus is that the school will shut down because of COVID. Online classes simply can’t compare to the experience of walking around campus to go to your next class!

 

Q: Is there anything else you’d like to say to your peers in the incoming class of 2021 about this exciting time?

 

A: Stay strong everyone! study hard and don’t lose focus! This is the time of our lives! Drexel Dragons for life!

 

Sonia Singh (health sciences major)Sonia Singh

Health sciences major

 

Q: Why did you choose to come to college at Drexel?

 

A: I chose to attend Drexel because the programs offered align with my goals and aspirations to become a physician assistant and the diversity allows me to explore other cultures. I consider myself to be an ambitious person whose curiosity of life never ceases and I believe that Drexel will help me grow academically and personally as I begin to find my place as an adult in today’s society. 

 

Q: What are you most excited about regarding your arrival on campus and the start of fall term?

 

A: I am most excited about the experiences and people I will meet at Drexel. Reading course descriptions, talking to current students and learning about potential professors lessens my doubts and boosts my anticipation to get started right away. I am looking forward to joining and impacting the culture Drexel cultivated. 

 

Q: Are you happy that Drexel will be reopening campus fully for fall term following shutdowns due to the COVID-19 pandemic? What does it mean to you to be able to start your college career in person?

 

A: I am extremely relieved and excited that my fall term will be mostly in person! For me virtual learning is very draining, less effective and less captivating than an in-person and therefore more hands-on experience. The best way for me to grow in my chosen field and as a member of our community is to be physically immersed in it. 

 

Q: What was the end of your high school career like, regarding ending it amidst the pandemic?

 

A: The end of my high school career was rough. Virtual schooling negatively affected the way I learned academically and socially because I was always sitting just in front of my computer. It was a very difficult and disappointing end to what would have been such a wonderful junior and senior year had the pandemic not occurred. 

 

Q: Is there anything you are worried about regarding coming to campus for fall term?

 

A: I am not worried about anything in particular concerning this fall because I am extremely excited and cannot wait to begin life at Drexel!

 

Q: Is there anything else you’d like to say to your peers in the incoming class of 2021 about this exciting time?

 

A: I am so excited to meet everyone, and I hope that our first year is successful and smoother than the last two years! Our experience at Drexel is what we make of it, and I have no doubt that this will be a wonderful year starting many great ones to come. Good luck everyone! 

 

 

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