On The Trinity Perspective, you will find those answers—or at least someone who asked the same questions. We have been in your shoes. The Trinity Perspective collects advice and stories from current students, parents, faculty, and alumni to share with you—prospective students, families, and the Trinity community.


By Abby DeNike '20

This past November, I found myself in a modern art gallery in London staring at a ragged, stained couch on display. I was with a small group of American pre-med students ten miles from the comfort of our science classroom at King’s College London. An exercise in seeing beyond the obvious, we were all struggling to think outside the box. When the art director asked us what we would expect this couch to contain, one girl went for the eloquent and answered “memories.” I blurted out “urine” and then thought, Why is this so much fun? How did I get here?

With my interest in neuroscience and a love for writing, some people consider me a student with diverse interests. While I am fascinated by both subjects, I did not weave these pieces together purposefully to set myself apart. Instead, when I started college, I committed to taking classes that I wanted to and making the rest work in terms of fulfilling the core requirements. Somewhere along the way I found my voice and—I hope—gathered some experiences that will help me contribute to the lives of others.

As a 17-year-old 1,600 miles from home, I entered Trinity confidently, with the expectation of comfort. I knew I could play tennis for the varsity team—I would have a built-in group of friends— and I knew the professors related to students on a personal level, which was my preferred learning style. Coming in, I had an inkling for medicine. I am now completing my last pre-med requisite three years later.
Over these three years, my expectations for my time at Trinity have changed drastically. During the fall semester of my freshman year, my arm would suddenly feel heavy and numb when I was on the court. I had experienced frequent aches and pains from the six days a week I had spent practicing since I was eight years old; it was logical that the shoulder fatigue was just an overuse injury. 

After multiple periods of rest, my arm continued to get worse, and soon my non-dominant hand was struggling too. I began to have symptoms off the tennis court. Raising my hand in class, passing a dinner plate, and carrying my backpack all became challenging and excruciatingly painful activities that prevented me from exercising and disrupted my sleep.

Cut to me spending the next two years traveling with my family all over the West Coast and the state of Texas searching for the ‘fix’ to my problem. Doctors seemed to ask questions rather than answer them: Was it a peripheral nerve injury from a trauma I could not remember? Was my anatomy just out of whack? Was it growing pains? When scans came back with little more than evidence of inflammation, was I imagining it? I have always been ambitious and hard on myself—some doctors suggested that it was all in my head. I felt I was pegged with a character weakness and that the only people who truly believed something was wrong was my family. 

I learned from a guest speaker on campus that patients, when met with an ambiguous diagnosis, handle the uncertainty in a variety of ways. For me, it felt like life had become chaos. I was forced to stop playing tennis. Suddenly, I had lost my favorite part of each day, my team and social identity on campus, my motivation, and the thing, I learned, that had offered me balance for my entire life. Doubt crept into places I had never experienced before. Optimism has always been one of my defining qualities, but after a failed surgery and two years of unsuccessful therapy, it was easier for me to be apathetic towards the whole process. 

I focused on holding on. Needing a new goal to distract myself with, I shifted all my attention and competitive energy to my schoolwork, and life quickly became one-dimensional.

My trajectory changed when a new doctor I was seeing told me that I could be causing permanent damage by my continual attempts to play tennis and that healing would be a lengthy process. I knew then it was time to move on. The same day I announced I was leaving the team to my coach, I was in office hours with Dr. James Shinkle. Perhaps he saw my burnout on that day because he encouraged me to pursue a study abroad course in England. The deadline had passed, but multiple professors generously offered to write letters in a 24-hour period, and I was accepted.

When I went abroad, I took all the courses I had wanted to take at Trinity but had not yet had time to: a class on chronic pain (fitting), a class on poetry, and a class on medical systems and how medicine has impacted art, policy, and history. In these classes, I shadowed doctors who worked in rheumatology, primary care, sexual health, and the ICU, and I learned about chronic pain and what it does to our diets, sleep schedule, and mood. Having felt like I had just lost a big piece of who I was, it was a huge relief to be inspired by my studies again. Importantly, I met people who recognized me as a complete person without knowing my history, and I started to see myself that way. I went on many trips with English friends into the countryside, joined a lacrosse team, and traveled to eight countries.

At King’s College London, I was also surrounded by people who were intrigued by the ambiguity in medicine, like I was. For the first time, writing, science, and my experiences as a patient all seemed to fit together. I realized I want to be a doctor because I want to help patients define the story of their illness and what it means to them. I have empathy for people who are unable to articulate what is happening to them. Whether it is a catatonic woman unable to speak or a patient struggling through chronic pain with no discernible cause, these patients require a doctor who will advocate for them. I believe that if patients play a role in constructing their narrative, they may be empowered to perceive life as broader than their affliction, even when their goals have to change. In my opinion, regaining this sense of identity is an important part of healing that is too often overlooked in our medical system and can have physiological and psychological consequences.

Despite still not having a conclusive diagnosis for my nerve problem, I have been able to turn myself outward again, and I’ve spent the last year rediscovering what inspires me. After two years of focusing most of my energy towards myself and my health, I have enjoyed participating in projects where I can help others. In Washington, I work for a lab that focuses on how to reduce alcoholism in people with severe mental illness through the use of incentives. I really enjoy working with the participants in a clinical setting and watching them become inspired when they are able to reduce their drinking. With the help of science students at Trinity, we have started a program called stEMPOWER, where we perform hands-on science experiments with elementary school students at Lamar Elementary in San Antonio. I still remember the science experiments and dissections I did when I was in elementary school, and we are working to create fun, engaging experiences that may encourage these students to pursue science later on. 

My time spent as a patient, living abroad, and volunteering in the community have shown me how doctors are met with the strenuous and multifaceted project of seeing the patient as a whole person. I am drawn both to the detail and abstraction this task demands. A doctor, I believe, should love the biological complexities of illness and have a deep desire to work out elusive elements. They must be curious, but they cannot get lost in this maze; they also must maintain focus on treating the person, rather than just the disease. After two years of failed treatments, negative tests, and non-answers, there was one doctor who helped me come to terms with my past and shift my attention towards my future. He acted as the catalyst I needed to make changes in my mindset and start healing, whether or not I achieve a full recovery. I also have immense gratitude for the professors and friends at Trinity who have supported me throughout my time here and helped me recognize I am capable of adaptation. It is challenging to learn this for someone—like most hoping for a career in medicine—who always has the next step planned. I have learned that who you are follows you wherever you go, but that does not mean you are incapable of change.

Entering Trinity, I never would have thought that some of my most memorable college moments would be in a modern art gallery in West London instead of on a tennis court in Texas. It was a splendid surprise.

So, answer me this: Does the couch contain urine or memories? Probably both.
By Danielle Treviño '19

It is everyone’s favorite time of year - New Student Orientation (NSO)! College is an exciting time, and NSO is probably one of the most exciting parts. Here are some useful tips to help you survive this week.




GENERAL TIPS

As an Orientation Team (O-Team) veteran and San Antonio local, these are tips I would highly recommend every new student remember throughout NSO week and the rest of their time at Trinity.


HYDRATE OR DIE-DRATE  (Hydration)


On behalf of Trinity University, please make your health a priority during NSO week. Our ancient O-Team proverb is Hydrate or Die-Drate.

Hydration is key! San Antonio is very hot, sometimes uncomfortably hot, and we want you all to be safe. We have filtered water stations all over campus, so make sure to carry your reusable water bottle with you throughout the week. In addition to drinking water, make sure to wear comfortable and heat appropriate clothes for move-in day. Although you may not be carrying all the boxes, breathable clothing is still important.


MR. SANDMAN, BRING ME A DREAM (Sleep)


We all know that it is tempting to stay up late talking to your new friends, especially during NSO, but please remember to get a decent amount of sleep. The NSO schedule can sometimes feel a bit overwhelming, and that feeling will probably be amplified if you are pulling all-nighters.

Pushing yourself too hard or hiding in your room are not great NSO strategies. Don’t be afraid to sit with random people, and make sure to take a breather once in a while if you feel tired. As a new student, you only get one NSO experience – don’t waste it going through it as a zombie!


STEP OUT OF YOUR COMFORT ZONE (Making Connections)


Get out of your comfort zone, while also being aware of your limits. Push yourself to engage in things at orientation that might make you a little uncomfortable at first, but remember to always put your own mental and physical health first.

That being said, don’t be afraid to come out of your shell – everyone is new! Everyone’s feeling a little awkward, and odds are they’ll be relieved that you made the first move to talk to them. NSO is the best time to make new friends and establish friendships that will last throughout your time at Trinity. We all know it’s hard, but pushing yourself beyond your comfort zone can give you memories and friends for a lifetime! Also, don’t feel embarrassed about feeling homesick; there is a good chance everyone else is feeling the same way. 


ASK.FM (Asking Questions)


Don't be afraid to ask any questions! O-Team, ResLife, faculty, and administration are all here to help you, and they want to help make your transition into college as smooth as possible. O-Team and Res Life both go through training before NSO starts to ensure we can assist new students with any issues that may arise.



MOVE-IN DAY

You applied and now you have arrived. It’s finally move-in day! We know that is going to be a big day for you and your family, and we want to make your transition as easy as possible. These are some tips and things to expect on move-in day:


WHO ARE THE PEOPLE CARRYING MY THINGS? (Team Trinity)



As you arrive on campus, you’ll notice a bunch of random people in white t-shirts carrying totes and boxes from cars and taking them into various buildings. Eventually, as your vehicle moves forward, they will approach you and carry your stuff away – do not be alarmed! It’s Team Trinity and they are here to help make the moving process as easy as possible for you and your family.

Team Trinity is a group comprised of current students, faculty, staff, and alumni who volunteer to help move in incoming students. This tradition stems from the students, faculty, and community volunteers who transferred University property from the Woodlawn campus to our current Skyline campus on May 13, 1952. In order to make sure all your belongings go to the correct place, please make sure to label your things with your name and room number!


COOL UPPERCLASSMEN (Meeting your RA and O-Teamer)



Throughout move-in day you are going to meet some really well-informed and energetic upperclassmen who will successfully guide you through New Student Orientation (NSO) week. These students will be your residence hall’s resident assistant (RA) and O-Teamer — we will all be dressed in labeled maroon t-shirts in order to be easily identified.

Utilize your RA and O-Teamer as much as you need to. Please reach out to us; our job is to help you navigate all aspects of NSO week. You’ll also receive your NSO fold-out schedules from us. I would 10/10 recommend NOT losing those!


ALL MY FRIENDS (Ice-breakers)


One of my favorite parts of NSO was doing ice-breakers with my hall and O-Teamer (long live the Class of 2019’s Beze 2nd Even). I remember being understandably nervous to meet my hallmates at first, but once our O-Teamer did various ice-breakers with us we all became friends. O-Teamers are super friendly and will engage you in different activities throughout NSO that will allow for your hall and incoming class to get to know each other better.

Establishing early bonds with my hallmates made me less alone during the rest of NSO. You might feel uncomfortable doing the hall ice-breakers at first, but you’ll be grateful that you did them when you find yourself not wanting to eat in Mabee alone during the first few weeks.



EVENTS

Go to as many events as you can possibly stand; NSO is a great chance to meet new friends, ask questions, and get to know about your new school. These events aren’t “stupid." They have been carefully chosen and refined throughout years of experience. I would highly encourage going to all the orientation events! You get what you give out of orientation.


ON MY HONOR (Convocation)



The convocation is a formal academic ceremony that mirrors graduation four years later; proper decorum and attire are required for students and families in attendance. Although that description isn’t the most exciting, it’s actually a vivid memory from my own NSO experience. Convocation is one of the few NSO events that requires you to dress more formally. In my apartment, I actually have a group picture of my entire first-year hall and RA dressed really nicely for convocation.

If you decide to wear a skirt or dress for convocation, please make sure they are long enough. The reason that’s important is because during convocation you lean over a table to sign the honor code in front of faculty members. We don’t want any embarrassing moments to happen during this ceremony. 


HIGH-FIVE (Playfair)


Endless high-fives. Countless conversations with strangers. The most intense game of rock-paper-scissors in existence. It’s time for Playfair! It’s hard to think of an NSO event more memorable than Playfair. It’s a staple tradition and experience that is unique to Trinity. It is an opportunity to get outside of your comfort zone, meet new people, and engage in fun group activities that are led by O-Team.

Playfair is a high-energy event that can be a bit overwhelming but is fun once you allow yourself to get out of your shell. It’s also a great way to meet a ton of people in a short amount of time. After meeting so many people at Playfair, you’ll probably recognize some of your classmates walking around campus.


SIGN ME UP (Student Involvement Fair)



You've moved in, signed up for classes, and now you're looking for ways to get involved on campus!
Come to our Student Involvement Fair (SIF), which runs at the start of every semester at Trinity. SIF is a great way to meet other students that share the same interests as you!

This is where you find out about academic student groups, Greek life, etc. If you find a group you are interested in, make sure to give them your contact information so you find out about their upcoming meetings or events. If you notice that Trinity doesn’t have a club for something (which I would honestly be shocked by because we literally have a club for everything), you can always start a new club, and you only need ten members!

Pumped for NSO? Learn more!

With this guide in hand, you've got all the tools you need to survive and thrive NSO week. Welcome to Trinity!


About Danielle

Danielle Treviño '19 is a communication and studio art major from San Antonio, Texas, and was last year's O-Team co-captain. She is passionate about bringing people together through a shared appreciation for art and hopes to bridge the relationship between art and the general community. 



As nearly 500 new Trinity graduates stepped out into the real world this month, Tigers from decades past offered advice for newly minted alumni. Read their tips below, and offer your own in the Trinity Alumni Facebook group.


Stepping out into the real world is scary—embrace the unknown.

  1. You may not be handed your dream job because you now have a diploma, but the skills, knowledge, and work ethic you have gained while at Trinity will ensure you’ll end up where you need to be faster than anyone else in life who didn’t receive one from Trinity. - Donald Dimick
  2. Whatever plans you have for the next steps of your life, they will probably not go exactly as you anticipate. Don’t let the stress of uncertainty or roadblocks deter you. Your journey will be the right one as long as you stay true to yourself and believe in your abilities. The unexpected twists and turns along the way will only make your life richer in the long run. - Matt Keidan ’02
  3. Do not fear failure. You cannot succeed if you don’t try new things, and you won’t be great at everything. - Diqui LaPenta ’88
  4. You[r] life journey will not be a straight line in which you will go from success to success. When you fail, make sure you fail forward and embrace the lessons learned. And when you succeed, celebrate. - Marc Jorge Estrella
  5. Take a moment to write down what’s important to you now, your hopes and plans. Save it with your diploma to visit sometime in the future. - Patti Bender ’76

Be grateful for your Trinity education.

  1. Your major does not define you! Put the liberal in your liberal arts education and think outside the box. - Laura Wojtalak Morrison
  2. Be flexible! You do not know where your great education will take you! Be grateful for your liberal arts education and the creativity that it has taught you! You may be a music major now, but you may end up a computer programmer later, and both the musical world and the information technology world (and your world) will be the better for it! - Elizabeth Hinkle-Turner
  3. Thank your professors and stay in touch. They’re amazing resources and can be helpful friends to ask for advice. - Cameron Meyer ’09
  4. Your post-collegiate life will invariably be different from what you have imagined...and that’s a good thing! Stay curious and take heart knowing your Trinity education has provided you with the most invaluable things—a well-rounded mind, critical thinking skills, the ability to write your way out of a corner, and a deep curiosity about the world! - Kimberly LeBlanc ’05
  5. Your degree is just the beginning of your journey. Use the critical thinking skills you have learned at Trinity, apply them with a pliable and open mind and attitude, along with a generous heart, and you will undoubtedly make the world a better place. - D’Ann Nichols Drennan ’93
  6. Find a location on campus in which you distinctly remember feeling like a brand new college student just four years ago. Go there, stand in silence and reflect on how far you've come. Capture the full impact of your education in that moment. That is what this journey has been all about. - Ben Newhouse

Know that your first job is just the first step

  1. The hardest job to land is your first one. It's usually not your ideal job, but just get in there, learn, grow and achieve. Don't expect it to come easily, but hard work and perseverance is rewarded. - Scott Francis ’95
  2. When choosing between job offers, evaluate the entire compensation packages, not just the base salaries. Health insurance premiums, matching 401K contributions, and little things like parking subsidies make a difference! -Chelsea Chapman ’01
  3. Say hi to everyone the first two weeks of being somewhere new, take the risk of joining people at their table at lunch and introducing yourself... because after that your group becomes those you met during that period. - Charmie Cuthbert ’03
  4. Your first job may not be ideal, but find enthusiasm to do the best you can at it, because you never know who's watching and noticing your potential that will ultimately move you to where you really belong! - Candace Rauschuber ’97, ’98
  5. If you are startled to find you picked a career path that does not 'feed your soul,’ do something about it sooner than later... life is way too short to be miserable. - Spring Willow Lee ’86 

And finally, you can’t beat some good ol’ life wisdom.

  1. The secret to life is enjoying the passage of time—don’t be in such a gosh darn hurry! - Grant McFarland ’87
  2. Wear clean underwear. Just sayin'. - Tim Read '78
  3. Sounds old fashion[ed], but send a thank you letter to your favorite faculty. You’ll be surprised by who writes you back. I treasure the notes I received in response. - Sujey Doctoroff ‘98 [Editor’s note - many, many people wrote about the wisdom of a handwritten thank-you note.]
  4. Life will humble you. Do yourself a favor and try your best to start out with a humble heart. - Jennifer Pruessner Hong ’03
  5. Back up anything you want to save from your Trinity email before it goes away. - Maria O’Connor ’13, ’15
  6. Print out your pictures! You've taken many, possibly thousands, over the course of your college career. Guess what? Unless they time-hop into your Facebook feed, you will forget them, and Trinity will fade from your mind. Don't let it. Print the photos, and display them proudly. Not all ten thousand, but the best ones with your friends, your strongest memories, and the moments you'll always remember with Tiger pride. - Sara Holton Gard ’03
  7. Commit with your closest friends to meet every year for a reunion and start year-one. It will be the most cherished tradition you have. - Karla Hagen Phillips
  8. Google yourself every few months to see what kind of pictures and information is floating around about you. Future employers most likely will search for you on social media, and partying pictures can make a lasting negative impression.
  9. Make coffee at home. Those Starbucks trips add up quickly. - Lauren Ashley Scott ’05, ’06
  10. Making friends as an adult is really challenging, so you’re going to have to put yourself out there and feel uncomfortable. Try joining a group that does something you love and meeting people that way so you don’t only have work friends (though work friends are great!) It’s going to feel awkward, but that’s okay! - Megan Reynolds
  11. Keep an eye on your credit score and make payments on time to keep it strong so you'll get good interest rates some day when you apply for a mortgage or a car. - Kristan Doerfler Siegel
  12. Enroll in your 401k immediately - Denise Mann Midthassel ’88
  13. Now that you are out of school, start making friends with people who aren’t in your own age group. You’ll get a much broader perspective on the world and some great advice. - Anne L. Trominski ’01
  14. Don’t lose sight of that kid with wonder who got you into Trinity in the first place. - Lauren Harris ’17
  15. Remember, it’s the Trinity phonathon calling! - Craig Ross
Advice has been modified for grammar and length.