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Life at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo – from a Dublin Gael to a Seaside Mustang

July 7, 2014
Camille Chabot

Camille Chabot

Meet Camille Chabot, Dublin High School Class of 2013 graduate and Cal Poly San Luis Obispo rising sophomore, who is the 31st Dublin High alumnus to share their college experience. The Life in College Series provides a unique insight into college life, from Dublin students who have journeyed around the country and beyond in search of  higher education. Camille has previously contributed two articles to, Irish Step Dancing – a Community Tradition in the All America City of Dublin, California and Dublin High School Cheerleading – Much More Than Pom-Poms and “2-4-6-8!”. Camille was also named the City of Dublin 2012 Young Citizen of the Year. Here is her story: What attracted you to select Cal Poly San Luis Obispo?

Camille Chabot: “I was interested in going to school in Southern California, and I definitely want to live there in the future, so I was looking at a lot of schools in the area. Some rejected me, some accepted me and some wait listed. I went for a Cal Poly visit with my grandparents, and I’ve been to Pismo Beach a few times on Spring Break, and the campus really caught my eye. I also have friends who attend Cal Poly; there are a lot of Dublin High grads at Cal Poly with even more coming next year. I love my decision.” Have you stayed connected with Dublin High grads at Cal Poly or have you made a whole new group of friends?

Chabot: “Both. I entered school with my best friend Cassandra and we’ve tried to stay connected with weekly lunches. It’s definitely hard because we’re living in different areas, have different majors and different schedules, but we make it work. I also have friends with Dublin High alum who graduated earlier.” What is your major?

Chabot: “I am a Liberal Studies major, focused on elementary education. After four years years I’ll have earned a Bachelor of Science – Liberal Studies degree, and there is a 4+1 option that makes it possible to stay one more year and earn a teaching credential.

“We’re in the College of Math and Science because Cal Poly wants teachers to excel in math and science for the future. It’s definitely been very challenging for me because while I’ve always liked math, it’s been one of my strengths, but science not so much. In the fall I took a physics class, winter was chemistry and spring was earth science all as a series – same class, same students. It was definitely my hardest class.

“To get through the science classes I took advantage of professor office hours. College is nothing like high school, where you are taught everything in class. In college you have to spend your life in the library, actually read and understand the book, and then use professor office hours if you don’t understand a concept. It’s important to get used to and take advantage of office hours in college.” What inspired you to pursue a degree in education?

Chabot: “My mom and aunt are teachers, and I’ve always enjoyed visiting their classrooms, and seeing how they help kids. I’ve also always liked hanging out with kids, I’ve been a babysitter for years, and I’ve always been the one that my friends come to for questions about homework.” How was the transition from Dublin High School to college and did AP classes help you?

Chabot: “I definitely wish I had taken more AP classes because on the Cal Poly website you are able to see how AP classes carry over. I took a good amount of AP and Honors classes, but I wish I’d take more that qualify for Cal Poly. My AP US History class counted for a free elective while my AP French class will help if I pursue a minor in French (which I’m considering). Looking back I wish I’d taken an AP English or AP Psychology class which would have helped with some of my GE requirements.” How did you adjust to the freedom of college from the structure of high school?

Camille's Dorm Room

Camille’s Dorm Room

Chabot: “It was definitely something I was looking forward to, but you have to be careful and not take too much advantage of that freedom. I like to plan out my week making sure I have time for the gym, for office hours, the library, and do my homework. It’s a lot different from high school where you come home to your family, a scheduled dinner and time to do your homework plus other activities (I had dance and cheer). In college it is a lot different because rather than going home to your parents you go to a dorm. Dorm life is so social that you don’t want to do anything, you just want to sit in the common area and talk to your friends. I had to force myself to go straight to the library after class, rather than going back to my room, because I knew how hard it would be to work in the dorm.” You’ve previously written for about your experiences in the Dublin High School Cheer Program and the McGrath Irish Dancers. Have dance or cheer carried over into college?

Chabot: “While I haven’t done dance or cheer in college, but I have stayed in touch with dance when I come back to Dublin. The new thing for me in college is my sorority. I feel like I’ve met a hundred more girls by being part of a sorority then I would have otherwise. Meeting people can be difficult because when you are in class you don’t have time to socialize, but my sorority provides time and an opportunity to meet new people. On Sunday we have chapter meetings where we dress in business attire, which provides experience in professionalism, and we have philanthropy events where we raise money for charitable causes. And of course we have social events.” Do you have advice for students on staying on track with their major and planning a course schedule?

Camille with mom Kerrie

Camille with her mom Kerrie

Chabot: “It’s very stressful. I like to have my planning chart right in front of me, laid out with all my credits, to make sure I’m taking the right classes and will be able to graduate in four years. Since our school is so impacted we are scheduled in rotation by last name, and sometimes you’ll get the last rotation which means you’ll get no classes and you’ll have a horrible schedule – all over the place. I aim for having my classes close together with a 30-minute break for lunch.

“For each major we’re given a chart for the classes we need to take before you graduate, which is really helpful, and we also had a mandatory poly plan to fill out through the winter of our sophomore year. If you didn’t fill out the plan, you were pushed to the bottom rotation, so that was a strong incentive to fill out the plan. I filled out the plan through my junior year, and thought about summer classes to get ahead. Creating a plan was really helpful.” Talk about the internship you’ve secured for this summer.

Chabot: “Knowing people can really help with landing an internship. In my case I found out about an internship with a software company in Pleasanton through my uncle. I work in the I.T. department and have learned so much in the five days since I started. I’ve been imaging computers to prepare used laptops for donation to a charity, making sure the laptops are ready for the kids, installing Open Office, stuff like that. While the role has nothing to do with my major, it provides me with real work experience.” Did you experience homesickness?

Camille with Cal Poly Friends

Camille with Cal Poly Friends

Chabot: “Absolutely – homesickness hit me. I didn’t get used to it until winter break. During winter break I was excited to go back to school. I did come home a few times and was sad to go back to school; it’s something to get used to.

“At Cal Poly we have a great bus program which comes right on campus and it’s a three hour bus right to Oakland or San Jose, which I took advantage of several times. I also Skyped and called to keep in touch with my family. But it’s really important to make new friends on campus, to start living your new life, and moving away from homesickness.” For students considering Cal Poly, describe the school spirit, what it’s like to be there.

Chabot: “I love Cal Poly. Everyone is so nice. It’s the little things I notice, when you’re walking into a building someone holds the door open for you. Everyone’s really friendly, you start recognizing faces and people will say hi to you. It’s a very friendly environment.” One final question, what advice do you have for Dublin High School students who are starting to think about college?

Chabot: “I was just talking to my sister about this. My first piece of advice is to take AP classes – AP can be really helpful in getting college credit ahead of time. Know what you need to aim for to get into the colleges you like. Work to get good SAT / ACT scores. Look up the prompts for college essays and start brainstorming early, because things come really fast in your senior year of high school, it will be Thanksgiving before you know it!”

At the Dublin High School 2013 Senior Awards Night Camille Chabot was recognized as a Dublin Lions Club Student of the Month (February), was awarded a DHS Alumni Scholarship, GFWC Scholarship and DHS Counseling Department Scholarship, was named a California Scholarship Federation Life Member, earned a President’s Silver Award for Education Excellence and earned Dublin High School’s Advanced Scholar Diploma.

Other articles in the Life in College series:

View near campus

View near campus