Nicole Ukoefreso, a native Wichitan, knew she wanted to attend Wichita State for most of her life because she admired Wichita State students for their involvement in the community.
Nicole is one of more than 1,200 students eligible for fall 2020 graduation. Learn more about her time at Wichita State and what the future has in store for the grad.
What is your degree in?
I will be receiving my Bachelor of Science degree in chemistry with a minor in biological sciences.
What led you to Wichita State to begin with?
I grew up in Wichita, so I always had aspirations of going to Wichita State. During high school, what really sealed the deal for me was the unique atmosphere that Wichita State offers. As a commuter school, their community engagement is high, and seeing Wichita State students out in the community so often made me also want to represent the university to younger students.
How are you feeling leading up to graduation?
Mostly excitement with a little bit of apprehension. Being a new college graduate entering the workforce is difficult, but COVID-19 adds another dimension of uncertainty. My excitement outweighs my apprehension though. I’m excited to celebrate the last four-and-a-half-years of hard work with my family, friends, professors and faculty.
What has been your most helpful learning experience while a student at Wichita State?
As a new college student, I wanted to experience everything at once but quickly learned that the load that I had taken on was not sustainable. I realized that I had to prioritize what was most important to me and let some things go. I learned that setting limitations for yourself and boundaries with other people is necessary to maintain a well-balanced life.
What was been your biggest challenge as a student, and how did you overcome it?
I received a grade that I wasn’t happy with, but I think I deserved it. I did not put in the time that I should have to receive the grade that I wanted even though I put in a significant amount of time. Up until then, I think that I was coasting a little bit because things always worked out in the end. I retook this class knowing that I had to put in the work every day even on days when I didn’t want to. In the end, I received the grade that I was much happier with. Unfortunately, I think failure is important part of achieving greater success. As hard as it was in the moment, I think that it made me a better student.
What has been your most helpful learning experience at Wichita State?
Although my high school was diverse, I don’t think that I really experienced diversity until coming to Wichita State. Wichita State gives the opportunity for students to express multiple facets of themselves through different organizations and events. I’ve learned a lot of things about my friends and their backgrounds that I thought I already knew a lot about, but in reality, there was still a lot for me to learn. I think that meeting such different people has taught me patience and open-mindedness that will be an asset in my future.
What are your plans after graduation?
My post-graduate plan is to attend graduate school. I’m currently deciding between medical school or a master’s program in biochemistry.
How has the COVID-19 pandemic affected your time at Wichita State or your post-graduation plans?
Obviously, I think that many students would rather be on campus experiencing campus life and learning in person. COVID-19 affected my time at Wichita State in that aspect. I greatly prefer learning in person as it fits my learning style better. A lot of my classes are lab-based, which are difficult to complete online. Surprisingly though, COVID-19 has offered me some insight into my future plans. COVID-19 has taught me that it’s important to be adaptable. While long-term goals are important, they should be flexible as well. Life plans do not always turn out the way you first envision them.
What advice would you give other Wichita State students?
I would advise Wichita State students to focus on the things in their control and try to let go of the stress associated with things that they can’t control. Protecting your physical and mental well-being should be a high priority right now.