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As I enter into my senior year of college, nothing feels real anymore. It is amazing to me that I have made it this far into my undergraduate career – and damn that time has flown by quickly. I am entering a series of lasts – last math classes, last Blue Band events, and last year of PLA blogging. I want to take a moment and talk through some of my priorities for the semester and my struggle to balance all of them. Thinking out loud in this blog really helps me to process where I am at, and hopefully you guys can get an update into my life as well.

To begin, the biggest time commitment of this fall so far has been my involvement with the Blue Band. I cannot express how influential the Blue Band has been to my college experience. I really believe that I would have an entirely different college experience if I had not been blessed with the opportunity to join this organization. This season, I am serving the band in multiple leadership capacity as both an officer (a Blue Band Librarian to be exact!) and as a clarinet guide (one of the leaders of the section). As the “head librarian,” my duties involve managing a team of two colleagues to coordinate all the music for the band this season. This includes finalizing the set list of the band’s music, copying/cutting/organizing the parts for each instrumentalist, and maintaining a physical and digital archive of the band’s repertoire. From this experience, I have learned a lot about working in small teams and leveraging the individual strengths of my team members. This role requires a rather managerial form of leadership where there are specific tasks to get done, and my role is to coordinate and facilitate the success of my team. As a guide for the clarinet section, I am responsible for general administration of the 26 clarinet players in the band, and this involves providing feedback on marching technique, evaluating music memorization, and teaching the rookies the traditions of the band. Beyond all this, I also believe that maintaining the general morale and cohesion of the section as my responsibility. Because there are three guides in the clarinet section, I have also been learning how to share leadership responsibilities and when to shut my mouth (which can be especially hard for me!).

Outside of band, I am of course taking classes – particularly math and stat courses, though this is nothing new. What is new is the set of extra projects/commitments that I am taking on to stretch my academic and professional boundaries. First of all, I am working towards the completion of my Schreyer Honors Thesis with research in the college of IST. Specifically, I am working on developing a method of using mobile phone usage patterns as a proxy to study changes in sleep behavior at the population scale. For example, we want to see if phone activity can tell us how daylight savings time affects sleep across a population. I am very excited but also intimidated at this project ahead.

These are my day to day responsibilities, but I also have a series of big existential questions that I need to start answering, namely What am I going to do next year? (… but I think that’s a topic for my next blog!)

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