One Down, Three to Go

January 29, 2018
Maya Stephens (far right) and a few first-year classmates pose with the Trent Hall sign on the first day of classes last fall. They've spent many of their waking hours in this building over the last few months!

By Maya Stephens, 1st-Year MSc-GH Student

I am still in awe that I have completed my first semester of graduate school! If I could come up with one phrase to sum up the semester, it would be “It was all worth it!” 

Last semester was challenging for me, if I were to be completely honest. After taking a year off to do service around the United States, I had a challenging time re-adjusting to the rigor of school. I was used to the early mornings and sleepless nights, but the wealth of knowledge was new and expectations were high. 

My hardest class was biostatistics and epidemiology, considering it was my first time taking such a course. However, now that it is over, I can undoubtedly say that it was amazing! I learned so much and was able to push myself to new heights. The tears, countless office hours, having 10+ tabs up on my web browser for weeks at a time and the missed engagements were all worth it.

For me, coming to graduate school was a huge step. I came from a very small historically Black undergraduate institution and was doubtful that I could properly articulate my experiences in order to get into a large school with a great reputation. However, there was no doubt in my mind that I was worthy and ready for the opportunity. Gladly, the admissions committee agreed with me. 

Being in the Master of Science in Global Health program has been a roller coaster. Some days, I have doubted my potential to succeed in the global health field and even at such a predominant institution like Duke. However, conversations with my colleagues and faculty have given me the reassurance that many of us share these same worries. We shouldn’t worry, though—we are worthy and capable! 

Graduate school has allowed me to become more confident in my abilities while being realistic about my limitations. Limitations that can easily be overcome by spending more time on material, adjusting my study strategies and attending the glorious OFFICE HOURS! 

As I approach semester two, I have a sort of renewed view on this journey. Although the journey may be rigorous and challenging, I can and will get through it. Self-doubt is common and strong mental health is key when pursuing advanced education, but keeping my vision in mind always allows me to persevere. I also keep countless amounts of motivational quotes around me to get me over the humps. 

To my peers: cheers to one semester being done! May we continue to persevere and may it continue to all be worth it.