As a first-year student, I was interested to know what advice a graduating senior could give me on how to make the most of my time at the University of Redlands. So I sat down with Gillian Palacio ’19, a psychology major and president of the sorority Alpha Xi Omicron, to find out her thoughts.
It became apparent that embracing opportunities and cherishing moments was crucial for her.
Gillian, in addition to being president of Alpha Xi, is a Dance Company member and peer mentor. Her extensive involvement on campus revealed a desire to take advantage of all that Redlands has to offer.
Her decision to study abroad in Salzburg, Austria, further illustrated that drive. During her first year, Gillian asked her advisor what was required to study there by her sophomore year.
“I came out hot,” Gillian stated. “My foreign language was German because I knew I wanted to go there.”
And she did. In the spring of 2017, Palacio traveled to Salzburg—following in the footsteps of more than 3,000 Redlands students since 1960. In Salzburg, Gillian continued her studies of German alongside social science courses. She also did community service work, helped out in a nearby animal shelter, and cooked dinner for runaway teens through an organization called Exit 7.
And how was it? “Unreal,” Gillian said. “I couldn’t believe I was able to take classes and travel at the same time. It was crazy to read about stuff and then go outside and visit [it].”
Gillian created further opportunities by forming relationships with professors. Some—including psychology Professor Celine Ko—have become influential figures in her educational career. “[I] love taking her class and learning from her,” Gillian said.
She also credits Ko with helping her develop connections between psychology and her future career—teaching. This fall, Gillian will continue her education at the U of R, where she will be earning teaching credentials in a master's program, with the goal of becoming a primary school teacher.
Cherish the moment
With graduation around the corner, Gillian warns that time as an undergraduate goes by fast.
“If you want to take that class, take that class,” she said. “If a club seems interesting, go for it. Also, remember that you’re here for social and academic experiences, so soak it all in.”
And her proudest moment? “Being president of Alpha Xi—and handling that with academics.”
I asked how she plans to spend her last day on campus. “I’ll spend it with my sorority sisters at our sorority house and just take one last lap around stuff, just soak it all in one time—all the silly things we did and the late nights in the library,” she says. “Because I’m not going to get this again.”
As I talked with Gillian, I couldn’t help but wonder if I was doing enough. If I was properly seizing the minutes that lie ahead of me. But I suppose the only way to know is to do the things that scare, yet intrigue us—to live urgently, but attentively. These are good things to keep in mind for a restless freshman, hoping to beat the clock.