Just a couple of months ago, to be precise- on June 10th 2012, I travelled for over 6000 miles from my country, Uganda, to the Americas to receive an education at what is arguably the most elite university in the world. Coming in, I had my own doubts. Doubts, doubts and I mean a lot of them. Being my first time to travel outside my home country, it was clearly an overwhelming and seemingly impossible transition to make. For June and July, I stayed with my wonderful American family while taking classes at Harvard Summer school. In August, I matriculated as a freshman at Harvard College.
Coming in, I was – as I used to believe, completely decided on what I wanted to study. Given my British education in Uganda, I pretty much knew that I wanted to be a medical Doctor or a research scientist. This, and many other reasons had a huge influence on my choice of classes for the first semester. In the past months, I have studied Life and physical sciences, Mathematics, a seminar on diseases and the sometimes dreaded writing class- Expository writing 20.
Looking back, I do not regret at all having chosen to take either of these classes despite the fact that the scope of my interests has changed a lot. My freshman seminar about diseases-infectious diseases to be precise has been my favorite one. I cannot forget the interesting discussions with my professor Don! We talked about the many infectious diseases that span the history of mankind ; from the great plague in the western world to Malaria in Sub- Saharan Africa where I grew up from. What has been stunning in these discussions is the realization that boosting household incomes for families is crucial to improving health; especially when we talk about diseases like Cholera that emerge due to poor sanitation and many others which would easily be eliminated given proper standards of living. It is in the same class that I came to meet people, who would later become my very good friends or at least- people I look up to. Mason Barnard, Bren Smith, Jessica Turner, Michelle and Vibav Mouli- the one person who literally told me that he wanted to be friends with me after the very first class meeting, remain as inspiring figures from the class. Most notably however, I met the girl who would turn out to be my best friend. Kirin Gupta! The very first girl I have ever over-heard, without her noticing, confessing her own affection for me. I have since our very first meeting, continued to talk with her and our conversations are always the best. Sometimes we catch up for dinner, and sometimes she drops a sweet note or even a text. Deep down, I know that I truly and sincerely cherish this friendship.
Among the moments that will also remain to be cherished are the many hours I spent, over the semester with my best friend Kenneth working on math and science problem sets. We work for hours, sometimes taking coffee breaks. We talk about everything, and sometimes we both realize that working together on a problem set may not be the smartest thing to do, just because our conversations are just endless. We talk about Politics, Economics, Science, Friendships and girls. We talk about institutions and their foundations, governments and the utopian ideas of equality and equal opportunity. Surely, conversations about the aforementioned topics excite me, so very much. Also Kenneth always teases me that if I continue being inclined towards such topics, and consequently, talking about mostly these topics,”even with girls”, it will turn out bad for me. He tells me that ” I always see you in Annenberg involved in “serious” conversations- even with girls. I always ask about the wrong thing about this and he argues that sometimes I need to talk about ”edgy topics”, because that’s what girls want to hear. Well, I do not very much comprehend the accuracy of this argument. I actually talk about edgy topics , too- though less as often! Despite all this, we always get our work done- and very well done indeed.
At this point, after all the thinking about what I want to do- to study in college and eventually do with my life, I still haven’t quite found an answer. One thing that is clear to me is that I will eventually come back to my country and work to create a positive impact. Whether this will be in Politics, Science, Economics or Healthcare- I do not quite know.
Lastly, I am so much grateful to God, or as some like to say, providence for a wonderful and blessed first semester in College. I think that I have attained great academic success, but more importantly, personal growth through my own numerous interactions with and observation of the world I live in. To my families and friends, I love you and will forever be grateful !
Looking forward to a brighter new semester, one in which I will excel more , form new friendships, strengthen the existing ones and most importantly grow to become a much better person.
Always striving to be the best I can possibly be.