Guest Blog by Scott Moskowitz ’11
Two weeks after graduating college, I feel I’m finally able to reflect on my experiences at Vanderbilt and the impact that four years here had on my life.
When asked why I chose Vanderbilt, my typical reply is that my naïve seventeen year old self thought it was a good idea. Looking back, I can say without hesitation that my more mature, though still care-free twenty two year old self wholeheartedly agrees.
Vanderbilt was the life-changing experience that a person from my upbringing needed. I was raised in suburban Atlanta, where day to day life was pretty much the same, and your average surroundings were plain and expected. At school in Nashville, I experienced overwhelming diversity – freedom to be and go wherever my listless heart desired. Organizations, clubs, fraternities, performing arts. Vanderbilt had it all.
However it took me a while to realize it. Complacency comes easy in life. Life is busy. Life is hard. Life is overwhelming. It is far easier to think narrow mindedly and inside the box than it is to branch out, dream big, and dare I say it reach for the stars.
A turning point came sophomore year when I was asked to go on a Manna Project International trip to Guatemala. This came at a rough time in my life and because of that I figured I had nothing to lose by taking a risk and going on the trip.
And it opened my eyes. Here were college students, of all shapes and sizes, traveling the world – changing the world. The experience showed me that we can do anything. The only barriers are self-imposed, and they are conquerable. What I so valued about Vanderbilt was the constant barrage of excellent, inspiring people that challenged me to do more, and make the most out of every single day. Not just my life, but each and every day. The rest would come naturally.
Through Vanderbilt and its organizations I traveled to Peru, Israel, and Argentina. I couldn’t stop. I picked up another major. I started taking trips with the Outdoor Rec. I became involved with an organization by the name of Engineer’s Without Borders that helped needy third world communities find solutions in obtaining clean drinking water. This inspired me to take the path I’ve chosen after graduation: attending graduate school for Environmental and Water Resource Engineering with the prospect of joining the Peace Corps to apply what I’ve learned and help communities abroad solve their infrastructural problems.
So what would I tell the seventeen year old me if I had the chance (I’m pretty sure there’s a Brad Paisley song about this)?
I’d say get outside; don’t sit in your room. Unhook your Tivo if it’ll make you stop watching it. Go on every trip you can – seriously, those opportunities are once in a lifetime. Even better, go with kids you don’t know. Take interest in everyone you meet, they’ve all got something to offer. Join organizations and be active in them; take officer positions. Study hard, your work is a reflection of your work ethic so make it count. Get to know your teachers. Go to office hours. Vanderbilt is an incredible institution and your professors are proof of that just as much as the students are (I’m looking at you Dr. Troxel). Use the indoor and outdoor recs, they are great places to stay in shape, have fun, and meet people. Value every moment, and find a balance in what works for you and what doesn’t. College is what you make out of. So start forming the habits that will benefit you for the rest of your life. That, more than anything, will be the best thing you can take away from a four year, one of a kind, Vanderbilt education.