First-Year Leaders

Haley Bilbray
Junior from Plano, Texas
Major: Chemistry
Minor: Mathematics

Why did you decide to attend UT Dallas?
Initially, UT Dallas was very, very generous in the scholarship department. As I learned more about the University through tours, Scholar's Day, and a STEM event, I became intrigued by the constantly changing campus that held potential for my future success more than any other college campus I visited.

What do you like about UT Dallas?

We are a university that excels in putting the students first. We thrive on student input and student initiative, both of which promote student leadership, a skill necessary for career development. The opportunities are abundant freshman year through senior year (or graduate studies) for students to see a problem and make a change for their individual futures or for the University and its prospective students. There are also chances that come immediately at UT Dallas for academic improvement, whether you want to begin researching in a lab or teach in a classroom to get your feet wet through the UTeach program.

List some clubs and organizations you are or have been involved in at UT Dallas.

First Year Leader, Student Ambassadors, Office of Student Volunteerism, Office of Student Success and Assessment (Peer Led Team Learning Leader), UT Dallas Community Garden, Chemistry Student Association, WeTeach, Global Awareness Forum, Student Leadership Program

What has been your favorite/best experience at UT Dallas so far?

I started running my own General Chemistry review sessions in freshman year with the support of two of the professors, partially because I wanted to reinforce the material as I took the class myself (review from high school Chemistry and AP Chemistry) and also because I found that I loved to help my fellow students realize the fun side of chemistry. Due to my enjoyment, I still run the review sessions, have gotten to experiment with different teaching techniques (some have failed), and made connections with the professors for recommendation letters. The best part about these sessions is talking with the students before and after. Getting to hear how they were struggling with a concept until I explained it in a different way or how they appreciate me taking time to assist them puts a smile on my face and clears my sleep-deprived mind for a while.

What did you learn about college life that you didn’t know before?

There is no "typical" college story. However much you might stress about having the same experience as your other college friends, it will not matter in terms of personal enjoyment. I also learned that people don't come to you in college, you have to go to them.

What do you like to do to unwind after class?
Typically, I like to catch up on sleep before getting started on homework. I like late night walks through campus to look at the lit up buildings and to star gaze on the mound by the Activity Center. Walking to 7-Eleven, playing Xbox, watching movies, volunteering, admiring my Periodic Table shower curtain, writing on personal and University white boards, and giving in to my nerdiness occupy my free time.

Why did you decide to become a First Year Leader (FYL)?

I want to share my experiences, tips, suggestions, and warnings with the incoming freshman. I still use inside information that my FYL gave me in RHET 1101, so I want to do the same to the students in UNIV 1010.

Is there anything you wish you did during your freshman year that you didn’t?

I wish that I made effective college study skills in my easier freshmen classes so that, once I hit the harder college classes, I would be prepared. College does get harder as you go, so take advantage of any free time you have freshman year to connect with a professor, to make a foundation of friends, and to experiment with different organizations.

What advice do you have for the incoming freshman class?

Attend your UNIV 1010 class! Take the time to become a well-rounded individual, balance the academics and extracurriculars. By broadening your scope, you become more marketable, unique among your peers, and less likely to burn out from the stress of academics. Keep a running resume, with the critique of the Career Center - it's difficult to remember things you did freshman year when you are sending in a resume for an internship your junior year. Make staff connections on campus - they can help you get involved and recommend you to certain programs that the faculty might not know about. You make your college experience, not your parents, not your extended family, not your friends, not your professors. Put in the effort at the beginning of your college career to get connected to this campus and its arsenal of resources.


Updated: August 15, 2012