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Life at the University of Nevada, Reno – From the Dublin Gaels to the Wolf Pack

June 16, 2012

Summer Benavidez

Dublin High School Class of 2011 graduate and University of Nevada, Reno freshman Summer Benavidez took a few minutes to share the experience of her first year at the University of Nevada with What field of study are you pursuing at the University of Nevada, Reno?

Summer Benavidez: “I’m majoring in business now and I’m really into volunteering. I was in 4-H for ten years so I really want to incorporate volunteering into a career, for example helping non-profit businesses  raise money, or working with a philanthropic business.” How did you get involved in 4-H and how did the experience benefit you?

Benavidez: “I started 4-H when I was 8 have been involved for 10 years. I was at the Alameda County Fair and my dad pointed out 4-H. I talked to them and joined – it was easy to get started. I was super shy as a kid, I couldn’t talk to anyone and would cry in front of the class when I had to give a presentation. 4-H really helped me with public speaking – I can speak in front of an audience now. I learned to be confident in myself and enjoyed volunteering and helping others.

“4-H is a youth organization that  used to be mainly agricultural-based, but as time goes on 4-H is evolving beyond that.” What was your experience transitioning from living at home and attending high school to moving out on your own and attending college?

Benavidez: “The first month was great – I’m on my own, this is great, I can do whatever I want. But after that month was done it hit me like a wall and I was really homesick. I’ve lived in Dublin my whole life and Reno is so different from the Bay Area. I felt super homesick and anxious, and I couldn’t focus on anything. I considered coming home because I thought I couldn’t handle it, but after my mom told me to stick it out for a semester, after Thanksgiving break when I came home for a week, I felt a lot better.

“The hardest part was being away from my mom and my family. It was my comfort zone. In high school when something’s hard at school or in your life you know you can come home – this is your place to be at, to be comfortable – but in college, you are far from home in a dorm room with people you barely know, and you don’t know how to open up to them. But once I got over that it was a lot easier.” What other things were different from high school?

Benavidez: “You have so much more freedom, the professors care but you have to go to them whereas in high school I felt a lot of teachers were holding your hand a lot or would go out of their way to help you, but in college you are so independent. In college, it is your job to get help during a professor’s office hours and move your schedule around to meet with your professors, whereas in high school teachers are always there trying to help you. What has been the most fun about college?

Benavidez: “I expected to meet a lot of people, and that’s been the most fun – I enjoy meeting people and socializing. Everyone is so different, coming from different backgrounds, and it’s really cool to meet so many new people. In my first year I focused mainly on school and academics but next year I plan to join a club on campus and volunteer, because it’s what I love to do.” How is the workload different from high school?

Benavidez: “I find the homework easier because there isn’t as much hand-holding and you don’t have something due every single day, you can work on assignments over several days – that was really nice. But tests hit me the hardest – I had to reform the way I study for tests.” How would you describe the University of Nevada, Reno to students looking at college options?

Benavidez: “People go crazy for athletics at UNR. I have friends at other schools that don’t have sports or a football team. In Reno, when it’s game day whether it’s basketball or football, people are dressed-up and tailgating hours before the game. It’s really fun. There is always something going on and the campus is really beautiful. A lot of people from outside Reno, like I was, are turned off by the city of Reno because it’s a bit sketchy, but when you see the campus it’s so different from the city of Reno isn’t affected by the city – the negative stereotypes of Reno aren’t on campus. The campus is big, but it’s laid out so you can get from one class to another in 10 minutes, unlike other campuses like UC-Davis, where you sometimes need a bike to get from class to class on time.

“I hosted prospective students in my dorm for a night. They had the same perception – it’s Reno – but when I showed them around the campus they really liked it.” How did you end up selecting the University of Nevada, Reno?

Benavidez: “My uncle works there so I got to know the campus a bit better because of him. I was looking out-of-state because the UC and Cal State campuses are so impacted and expensive. I also looked at Oregon and Colorado but only UNR offered Western Undergraduate Exchange (WUE) benefits. I’m really glad I chose UNR.” What made your Dublin High School experience memorable?

Benavidez: “Getting involved is really important – join things. I participated in leadership for my freshman and sophomore years, and played lacrosse. Whether it is sports or a club, you are with a group of people who share a common bond.” What was your experience with AP classes?

Benavidez: “I took AP Microeconomics and AP Government. I struggled in AP Microeconomics – I was always in my teacher’s room after school – it was so hard. It’s funny because in college now I’m doing great in that class – I get A’s when it was so hard in high school. I liked AP Government which is taught by Mr. Rubio who is an amazing teacher.

“It was difficult because I’d never taken an AP class until my senior year; I wasn’t sure how to prepare. My recommendation is that if students are going to take AP classes, they should start as soon as possible. Take an AP class in your sophomore year so you know what it is like.” What advice do you have for juniors entering their senior year and about to start the college application process?

Benavidez: “I like to put things off – I’m a procrastinator – so I definitely advise that students research schools they are interested in over the summer and visit campuses if possible. For example, I was originally very interested in Monterey but when I visited the campus I didn’t like the feel at all. Whereas the University of Nevada, Reno was originally low on my list because of the stereotypes about Reno but when I visited the campus I fell in love. Visit campuses as soon as possible and as much as possible because it benefits you in the end.”

In addition to her academic studies, Ms. Benavidez competed in Miss Teen San Francisco earlier this year and plans to compete in Miss California at the end of this year.

Other articles in the Life in College series:

Welcome to the University of Nevada, Reno