Student Spotlight 2023: Cody Elkin, U.S. Army

Tell us about yourself.

I am from Coleman, Texas, and serve on active duty in the U.S. Army as an infantryman. I decided to join the military when I was young for many reasons, but mainly after seeing the type of character my father portrayed in his everyday life. He is and was an outstanding example of discipline, excellence, and tenacity in his work, and has a passion for people that I have yet to see matched. Between aspiring to be like that and being able to serve my country, it was an easy decision to join. A fun fact about me is that as a kid/teenager, I was a huge science nerd (and secretly still am), and one time, I got to meet Buzz Aldrin and get his autograph. I was ecstatic for weeks!

Why did you decide to participate in WSP this summer, and was there a shift in your confidence level from the first day of the course to the last day?

Before attending the humanities and STEM course at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, I had already earned an Associate of Arts in General Studies. After being in the military for a few years, you can become a little rusty on some of the topics you learned in high school. I knew I had forgotten some things and wanted to feel confident I would succeed, so I attended WSP to rebuild that baseline and prepare for college again.

On the first day of our course, I felt I had gotten myself in a little over my head, but I was confident that our fellows were there to help us and knew I would be better for completing it. My confidence level on the last day of class compared to the first day was a night and day difference. After completing two weeks of humanities and STEM, I felt confident I could tackle any college course thrown at me and assimilate into the college culture with an open mind.

What were some key insights you gained during your course, and what is your biggest takeaway?

Being patient with myself, asking for help when needed, and knowing proper study methods were all things that I saw were crucial to college success. However, the most important thing I learned wasn’t the literal things taught in the classes but both the confidence that I could succeed in college and the resources/support that the fellows provided.

In one word, How would you describe your overall experience?


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