Mikhaila Rice

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Despite growing up in Cleveland, Ohio, I had never been to Pittsburgh, so it came as a surprise when my mom recommended the University of Pittsburgh. Following research into Pitt’s programs, particularly the School of Pharmacy, I decided to visit. I quickly fell in love with both the campus and the city, and determined the University of Pittsburgh was the place I was meant to be. However, as August drew near, moving to a place where I knew no one frightened me. The University Honors College and Honors Housing made all the difference, providing me with a strong community of people and opening doors to countless opportunities for scholarly exploration.

My floor in Sutherland West immediately became close; relationships developed from shared academic interests and curiosity about the world. Through the University Honors College, we visited the Carnegie Museum of Natural History, listened to an author speak at the Carnegie Music Hall, and made glass paperweights at the Pittsburgh Glass Center. We even got to take a day-trip to Washington D.C.! My friends and I loved to stay up until the early hours of the morning talking about everything from random trivia to issues of immense global and philosophical importance. It was incredible to get the perspective of people from different cultures representing an array of majors and areas of concentration.  I gained insights and knowledge not easily taught in the classroom. Driving home after freshman year, my dad asked me about my biggest take-away from freshman year; after reflecting on the people I had met, I replied, “I realized how many amazing, unique, and passionate people there are in this world.”

The summer following my sophomore year, I received a Brackenridge Research Fellowship from the University Honors College to complete full time research in synthetic chemistry. This program introduced me to another diverse and impressive group of honors students researching a wide range of topics – from cell biology to urban studies to linguistics. Not only was I able to learn an immense amount about organic chemistry; I was also able to learn about the research of fellow students and faculty through weekly presentations. The breadth of academic offerings from the University Honors College has shaped the way I view my own studies and research. I am now in pharmacy school, but my undergraduate studies and experiences in humanities and language continue to shape my education.

I would not be the student or person I am today without the University Honors College. I am grateful for the opportunities it has given me, and even more so for the friendships. People from my floor in Honors Housing freshman year are still my closest friends, and I receive true support and encouragement from them.  In a world where we can often feel distant from one another, it is more important than ever to be part of a community that inspires unwavering caring and profound curiosity, and I have found such a community within the University Honors College.