College: Dartmouth University
Major: Computer Science
Year: First Year
College: Dartmouth University
Year: First Year
Dell Scholars: This is our first dual spotlight, which we are very excited about! Could you both start by sharing the story of how you ended up at Dartmouth after growing up in the Rio Grande Valley?
Antony (AG) and Brandon Guzman (BG): Going far away from home was something we both dreamed of – seeing snow, experiencing the four seasons, and getting far away from the Texas heat. We knew that our family would not be able to support us financially so we looked specifically at private universities that would be able to provide the most financial aid.
Toward the end of our junior year, one of our high school counselors sent us an email about Dartmouth Bound (a summer program for rising seniors) on the day the application was due. We hit submit at 11:59 p.m. that night not knowing a thing about Dartmouth. We were both accepted and spent a week in Dartmouth in July before our senior year and we both fell in love with it and applied early as soon as we got home. It wasn’t until we were actually accepted that we began to think about what it meant to move so far from home.
We know that both of you have had to adjust to the increase in academic expectations and have noted having feelings of inferiority. How have each of you worked to adjust and adapt your mindset?
BG: It has been a major adjustment to try my hardest and study all the time to only get a low B or an A-. There’s really no way to sugar coat it, coming to Dartmouth where so many students have backgrounds in elite high school or boarding schools is a whole new level of difficulty compared to my high school.
AG: Yes, that is so true and not only did they attend elite schooling, but they entered Dartmouth prepared for the curriculum, whereas we have never experienced this level of academic rigor. I do not always feel confident and at times I have felt dumb compared to my classmates. However, I realized it’s not about prior knowledge but how well you adapt. Work smarter, not harder.
BG: Everything is so fast and I spend the majority of my time studying and trying (emphasis on trying) to get ahead in class. College is hard, no other way to say it. But I have found that once you accept that, it gets better and you can focus on getting through it, instead of trying to be perfect. I’m not saying it’s okay to fail, it’s not. I’m saying it’s fine to not understand what’s going on every second of the day. I don’t think anyone comes here to thrive. We come here to learn and along the way we learn how to thrive.
You both have a mindset that is years beyond that of a typical first year student. With that said, do you find yourselves leaning on each other during the tougher times? What has it been like attending college with your twin brother?
AG: Sadly, we rarely see each other – maybe once a day if we pass each other in our dorm hall. Our interactions are very limited since we’re pursuing different things, but we do make time to update each other on the major stuff.
BG: I wish we would have more conversations, but we’re both just so caught up in doing our own studying. If anything we just speak in Spanish to each other in small bits because we’re homesick. We both miss our Mexican culture. It’s nowhere to be found and I miss speaking Spanish on the daily.
AG: That said, it is nice to know that someone is facing the same struggle as I am and that I have someone to talk to if I’m struggling.
That’s good to know that even with your demanding schedules you both understand that in the end you can and will be there for each other. Keeping in mind that you’ve only been on campus for a few months, what has been your favorite part about college thus far?
BG: For me it has been learning Japanese. My Japanese class is entirely in Japanese so it’s a lot of gesturing and laughing as we try to get our points across with our limited vocabulary. I have also really enjoyed hanging out with international students. Everyone has a different story and we teach each other small bits of language, exchange music, and help each other with homework.
AG: I agree with my brother. I’ve made close friendships with students from Korea, the Dominican Republic, and China. It’s been nice to be able to look at the world from another person’s perspective.
That’s great to hear. What about a hobby or something you each enjoy away from the classroom?
AG: Because of my friends, I would have to say learning new languages. Whenever I have a small window of time I study Korean for fun to take my mind off my homework. I have met a lot of Korean students who have helped me on pronunciation and slang and I plan to study abroad in Korea through our exchange program.
BG: I have gotten really into studying Japanese outside of my class. I’ll study and learn the Kanji on my own or try to decipher songs whenever I get bored of studying and need a break. One of my friends here is an exchange student from Japan and she will help me out or quiz me to keep my brain running. Like Antony, I’m liking it so much that I hope to study abroad in Japan next year.
Studying abroad is such an amazing opportunity – that is great to hear that each of you are already planning it out! As is our customary final question, what is one piece of advice for fellow Scholars?
BG: Find something you love. In high school I was always worried about getting into college, family, friends, etc. I never really thought about what made me happy because just being with my friends and family was enough. But now that I’m in college, I realize it’s mostly about me. So try to find that one thing that does it for you, whether it be watching Netflix, going hiking, reading, anything goes. Always try to make a little time for yourself, even if it’s only an hour a week, it can keep you sane.
AG: The most important piece of advice I want to advocate for is that it’s okay to ask for help. It’s actually better than okay, you need to ask for help even if you really don’t need it.