Existential Questions for New University Students to Ponder

Written by Miguel Domínguez, Ph.D., Professor Emeritus, Modern Languages, CSUDH. Dr. Domínguez has been leading efforts at the university to improve Latino university student academic success. For more than a decade, he has organized conferences on student retention at CSUDH.

Un camino se empieza con los primeros pasos. A journey begins with the first steps. A curriculum vitae (CV) or the race/journey of (your) life.

As you start or continue your studies at the university, below are a few questions and responses that will give you “ánimo” and “ganas” to succeed at this university, even as you may be battling nagging anxieties and uncertainties that get in the way of effective learning. Your physical and mental well-being – tied to self-image – are vital to your school and life success.  

Quis ego sum?  ¿Quién soy? Who am I?

You have several identities. You are a member of a “familia”, a friend to someone, and now a university student, that is, a member of an elite, select community of scholars. Many people cared about you before you were accepted; from this moment on, many more will care about you here at the university: a support system of faculty and staff who very much want you to succeed.  You are not alone. Simultaneously you yourself are a support to others in need.

Ubi Sum? ¿Dónde estoy?  Where am I?

You are exactly where you deserve to be. Your commitment to education and your hard work combined so that you met strict entrance requirements. You earned the right to be in a university classroom (even when experienced virtually). Having made a transcending and life changing decision to come here, your presence (physically and/or virtually) will translate to assets, reflecting the institution’s diversity and its core values. You are beyond a “school of your choice”; you are at the university of your destiny!

Ego et alii? ¿Los otros y yo?  The Others and I?

Once more, you are a family member and a friend to someone: you are loved and admired. You are now, additionally, a pupil of a professor: someone who is demanding and who will challenge you beyond your comfort zone, yet also fair, responsive, and compassionate. These same instructors welcome you as a mentee in the near future, and as a colleague in the far future.  Interact and develop socially.

Quo vado?  ¿A dónde voy?  Where am I going?

You are on a marvelous odyssey toward success and fulfillment as a professional. You will graduate empowered to become an agent of change and you will advance the socioeconomic progress of your community. In partnership with your professors and your peers, you will leverage erudition to positively affect those around you. The next four to six years of wonder at the university will impact the quality of the subsequent 60 years of your life. You are as potent as your knowledge, experience, wisdom, and compassion.

Libros, caminos y días, nos dan sabidurías. Books, paths and days give us wisdom.