Fall 2018 was my first quarter of college at the University of Washington Bothell and it was all that I expected it to be and more. I enjoyed all my courses and plan on taking more than the 19 credits for winter quarter. There was an emotional and physical toll that I was not expecting, and it made my participation in school very difficult. Having Sickle Cell has always made me feel like that is the only thing that people see when they look at me that is why I don’t like to talk about having it. When I started college, I felt like I was going to be able to start over and create a different identity for myself other than just being known as someone that has Sickle Cell. I have been able to attend many different social events like a few football games and hiking with my writing class. These were some of the best experiences I have had so far in college and it wouldn’t have been possible without the help of the Task Force. When I first began the quarter, I was excited and full of energy, but towards the end I became very drained and unmotivated. This was mostly because of my depression and anxiety. I didn’t want to participate in anything, especially school. My grades began to drop, and my professors were getting really worried about me. Working 20 hours a week and being a full-time college student is a lot of work but in the end, I figured out a schedule that worked best for me. I was able to get my grades back on track which is the main thing I was worried about. I also changed majors from nursing to business marketing which was difficult because I had to start over. School is something that I think is very important and it can set the foundation for the rest of your life. I wasn’t happy with what I was doing or how my life was going so I decided to change it. There are many things in my life that I cannot change like that I have Sickle Cell and how it affects my body mentally and physically, but I can change other things. This was one of the best decisions I have made in a long time and I am excited for the last two quarters of my freshman year of college. I hope to go backpacking with some of the other students at school next quarter as well as.————————————————————————————————
College so far has been difficult for me. Between the classes and the work that has to get done outside of class I feel like I’m slowly starting to get the hang of it. Since it’s my first year in college I don’t think that I was really prepared for the workload that comes with being a college student. It’s like having a job that you don’t get paid for and must take home with you at the end of the day. So far, I’ve been able to balance out my workload with my personal life and my health. However, since the weather is changing and it’s becoming cold, I’m worried about getting sick and ending up in the hospital while I have school. Luckily, I’ve only had to stay home due to pain once which I’m proud of because it shows me that I have been taking care of myself. I can balance my school work and health. My professors have been very understanding and helpful and I’m truly blessed that they are a part of my first real college experience. I feel that if it wasn’t for my professors being understanding, I would be a little behind. Overall, I feel like I’m still in the stages of understanding how everything works in terms of the college student lifestyle, it just takes some time to adjust.
My first quarter at Highline College has been a great experience. I started the quarter not really knowing what to expect because the last time I was in school was during high school and that was a year ago. I was out of the school vibe.
I felt anxious leading up to the first day of school, but I was also excited to start college. I felt by going to college I was progressing in my life and one step closer towards being an adult. I knew no one was going to hold my hand so I knew I would have to become more dependent and responsible in life choices.
The one-year gap in school really allowed me to think if going back to school was really the path for me. I worked the year after high school, but I didn’t really like the course my life was taking and knew these jobs weren’t for me. It took a little persuasion from my mom and grandmother; in the end I ultimately chose the best decision for me which was going back to school.
I appreciate the Sickle Cell Task Force’s financial support as well. I started with taking 2 classes this fall quarter as I hadn’t completed my financial aid and wanted to start a little slow to get used to my surroundings and school again. I am excited to move into next quarter.
Thank you, Sickle Cell Task Force.
My experience as a new student at U.W has been incredible. There is a significant level of academic expectation as compared to when I attended community college. The program is quite demanding. I’m required to invest twice as much study in order to maintain my grades. Despite the challenging nature of the curriculum; I am grateful that my area of study focuses on public healthcare systems and how they affect our communities. This enables me to apply my knowledge into my work life as we work to find inventive solutions to health disparities, not only in low income communities but also on a global scale; particularly sickle anemia.
Being both a fulltime student and employee can be a stressful task to juggle, that’s why I’d like to express my gratitude to the Task Force for their continued support. The scholarship enables me to worry less about my next tuition payment and focus more on my studies. I am also happy to report that my grades are holding strongly at a 3.4GPA. The advisors and some professors have been so supportive and fascinated with my passion to improve healthcare I was awarded the 2019 Health Studies Scholarship. There’s lot of interesting groups as well i.e. The Black Student Union and African Student Union which encourage students to play an active role in improving their communities
The first couple of weeks felt surreal. Here I was a new student strolling the U.W campus, wiggling my way through the hallways painted in posters of purple & gold; into the classrooms and next to students who’d introduce themselves with titles as former hospital supervisor, biochemistry and pre-med etc. Initially, I felt slightly intimidated because these are intelligent people. However, as the quarter progressed, I reflected on my journey and reminded myself who I am. “I am John Masembe, surviving sickle cell transplant recipient; I’m intelligent and I have worked hard to earn my place as a Husky and I’m fighting for my sickle cell family!” These are the words I repeat to myself every morning like a prayer.