For Sydney Ellis (’19 Spanish, psychology), Iowa State’s Open Option program was a great way to begin a new adventure.
“Coming into college I never had this set career path of ‘This is what I want to do,’” she said. “It was more this is who I want to become. I want to become a confident person who can interact with others and bring them joy and do something valuable.”
Stretch your imagination
While exploring her academic options, Sydney started taking Spanish classes at ISU.
“During my first Spanish class here, I was so intimidated,” she said. “It was the first time I was in a class completely taught in Spanish. I only understood 30% of what they were saying. I brought in my pink drop slip and said, ‘I can’t do it. It’s way too hard.’ My professor said, ‘Oh, you’ve got this. We’re going to get through this.’”
She not only got through it – she declared a Spanish major and later added a psychology major.
“I never imagined I could learn a new language. That expansion of knowing you can do whatever you set your mind to was really encouraging,” she said.
Find your courage
When a professor encouraged Sydney to go abroad for a semester, she laughed.
“I thought, ‘That’s so far from home,” she said. “That’s for really brave people who know what they’re doing.”
Sometimes you’re braver than you think.
Sydney studied abroad in Caceres, Spain, and completed a counseling clinic internship at the same time. She sat in on sessions with children and adults, conducted tests and analyses and even led field trips – all in another language and country. The experience helped her envision a future career in human services.
“It’s given me a lot of confidence that I can do things I never thought I could do,” she said.
Prove yourself wrong
From doing undergraduate research to working in a counseling lab, Sydney stayed open to new experiences at Iowa State.
“It’s neat proving yourself wrong,” Sydney said. “My first year, I was so anxious. I thought, ‘I have to be perfect, I have to get a 4.0, I have to make friends to be a well-rounded person.’ There was so much pressure I put on myself. The best parts of my experience have not been forced.”
“In one class, I sat by a different person every day to get to know them. I met people from six different countries. I made a good friend on the last day of class.”
Sydney’s adventure also included: