Date Published: April 14, 2011
Brittany Banik | Bioengineering, class of 2012 | Monroe, NC
What are the most meaningful service and leadership experiences you’ve had at Clemson?
Habitat for Humanity: I love getting involved in Habitat Builds. The summer of 2010, I found myself organizing student groups to join in the amazing experiences I had while working on the Habitat sites. The people I interacted with were such wonderful people, the work was engaging, and the motivation of providing a safe home for a family fueled my desire to help. Along with participating in Saturday workdays throughout the semester, I have also become involved in the Habitat for Humanity Chapter and traveled with this group to Lakeland, FL, over Spring Break 2011 to participate in a week-long build. As a Habitat volunteer, I will not only build homes but also lives, friendships, and futures.
Undergraduate Research: The Honors undergraduate research program EUREKA! (Experiences in Undergraduate Research, Exploration and Knowledge Advancement) motivated me to pursue research. I worked in Dr. Bill Pennington’s as an incoming freshman, and continued research my sophomore year as a lab assistant in the Laboratory of Nanomedicine directed by Dr. Frank Alexis. These experiences strengthened my technical communication skills to better express my knowledge effectively and efficiently. Since starting my current project, I take pride in my ability to direct a team of students to accomplish research goals. Undergraduate research has been and continues to be an enriching experience that provides hands-on research and evokes a sense of excitement for discovery.
Bioengineering Ambassador: As a Bioengineering Ambassador, I am given the opportunity to excite prospective students and their families about the Department of Bioengineering and Clemson University. This leadership experience is enjoyable because it gives me a chance to share what I have learned throughout my schooling at Clemson and aid prospective students to their college decision.
What is the most meaningful learning experience you’ve had as a member of the Calhoun Honors College?
As a member of the Calhoun Honors College, I have been given opportunities that will truly impact my future. One of the most meaningful learning experiences I have participated in as part of the Calhoun Honors College is the Educational Enrichment Travel Grant (EETG) funding. The EETG gives students the ability to dream big and fulfill these aspirations. I have been fortunate enough to receive two EETGs. In the summer of my sophomore year, I used the EETG to fund a National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS) Alaska Backpacking Course. In this 28-day adventure, I backpacked 137 miles with a 40-plus pound pack alongside 13 other students and three instructors. My group experienced the outdoors in the purest sense. This journey provided me with technical skills in backpacking, outdoor leadership, a better understanding of myself, team dynamics, and a sense of confidence. I will use the EETG the summer of my junior year to support a research abroad program in Singapore. I have been accepted to pursue an eight-week research experience in Singapore in the School of Materials Science and Engineering at Nanyang Technological University. I am extremely appreciative of the funding support the Calhoun Honors College is able to provide.
How would you describe your Honors experience to a prospective student considering membership in Calhoun?
My Honors experience has been motivating and very supportive. I feel that my interaction with Honors advisors and Honors staff has provided me with valuable guidance, knowledge, and opportunities. The Honors College has positively affected my Clemson experience by providing funds for students to dream big, offering challenging classes, and adding a core component of service and social activities. Without hesitation, I would encourage prospective students to get involved with the Calhoun Honors College. Not only is participation an honor, it is also a door opening to a world of opportunities.
Looking back on your time at Clemson, what advice would you give yourself on your first day of your freshman year?
Looking back on the past three years, I see a student who has managed to take advantage of a lot of opportunities that have come along the way and, fortunately, has been successful in many of these experiences. If I found myself starting anew with my Clemson University acceptance letter in hand, I wish I would have understood the importance of creating “personal time.” I believe wholeheartedly that being an engaged student has its benefits, but it is imperative to keep everything in perspective. It is extremely easy to get consumed into saying “yes” to every opportunity that comes along the way — research, jobs, volunteering, publications, social activities. I learned the hard way that you can’t do everything. I advise students to be sure to create “me” time where you can relax, breathe easy, and take time to make sure you are truly happy in your decisions and division of your time. My take home message can be phrased as the following: “Be engaged. Discover. Work towards your dreams. But do all this with the question of, ‘Am I really happy?’”