Five Minutes with Monica

College: The University of Oklahoma
Year: Senior
Major: Accounting

Dell Scholars: Like many Scholars we know you had a very full plate in terms of home and school responsibilities growing up in Atlanta. What was your upbringing like?
I am the oldest of three, and my mother was diagnosed with lupus, scleroderma, and pulmonary hypertension when I was in seventh grade. When I was a high school freshman, my mom nearly died but was able to survive with the help of her amazing doctors. It was at that point that I made the decision to focus on school and my student organizations to help distract me from what was happening at home. At home I learned how to be independent, self-sufficient, and caring towards others as I cared for my siblings when my mom was too sick to do so. At my school, KIPP Atlanta Collegiate High School, I found support for my goals as well as the resources I needed to get to and through college.

From Atlanta all the way to the prairie. How did you settle on the University of Oklahoma?
I wanted to stay in state, but after touring the universities in Georgia, I was not excited about attending any school. I then applied to schools in various regions in the United States, except the Midwest. Then, the summer before my senior year, my grandparents adopted two kids with disabilities and moved to Edmond, Oklahoma from Oakland, California. My Nana (grandmother) forced my father and I to tour the University of Oklahoma. We wanted to skip the tour and pretend we went – but we started to feel bad, so we decided to go on the campus tour.

But I’m so glad we followed through. I had a complaint about every school I toured before OU. But once the tour began I quickly saw myself on that campus. The out-of-state experience was life altering because I had to learn an entirely new culture, make all new friends, and determine who I was as an individual.

Okay and then on top of moving halfway across the county, you’ve also made a substantial major change from premed to accounting – what has that been like?
Yes, it has been a very radical change for sure! In high school although I was very strong in science, I felt unfulfilled. I entered college hoping that feeling would dissipate, but after my first semester I only became more certain that I did not want to be a doctor.

Without a true career path in mind, I reached out to my best friend’s mom because who worked in business and she shared her point of view on the differences between accounting and finance. I decided on accounting after doing a lot of research which was further cemented by a twist of fate. I was at the OU degree major fair and the accounting booth was doing a raffle for a t-shirt. Keep in mind I never win raffles, but in this case I did. I figured it was fate and I changed my major.

I know you previously said that there was something special about OU that was unlike anywhere else you had visited. What is your favorite part of being a Sooner?
It would have to be the access to so many people that are striving to achieve different things. I can connect with a lot of different people, and some have become very close friends. My favorite thing to do outside of the classroom is being a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. Being a member of this sorority allows me to program, be creative, and share a sisterly bond with other hard working women.

You were recently in a pretty serious car accident, could you tell us some more about what you went through and how you managed to stay on track academically?
It caused me to have to stop everything I was doing and focus 100% on my recovery. At the time I was enrolled in 18 hours of coursework and was also planning to study abroad in London right after finals. But it took me about two months to recover, meaning that all the hard work I had invested during my junior year needed to be put on hold. I had to take incompletes in every class and withdraw from my study abroad program. I was and still am devastated and not completely over it.

The first step I took to get back on track was to teach myself the curriculum and complete the classes I had taken incompletes on. Thus far I have completed four of my six courses from my spring semester and will be completing the remainder of my courses during the first week of the fall semester. What allowed me to persevere is my support system and my goal of graduating from college on time.

I also thank Dell Scholars for always going above and beyond to ensure that we finish school with as little debt as possible and for caring about our overall college experience and our personal development before we even step foot on campus.

Thank you so much for sharing your story and for never giving in regardless of the hurdle in front of you. Your story inspires us to continue to do the very best we can to serve our Scholars. I know that you’ve experienced so much, is there a piece of advice you’d like to leave your fellow Scholars with?
Live in the moment and understand that you cannot control the things around you, but you can control your mindset. Living in the moment is important because people usually get stuck on what is the next big thing in their life without enjoying where they currently are in life. Time goes by very fast, especially in college. College is a roller coaster, and after being in a car accident, anything can happen to you no matter what you have planned. Plans change, and disappointments are strangers to no one. However, if you have a reliable support system, believe in yourself, and are driven to accomplish your goals, then life will be much easier and enjoyable.