Updated: Aug 27
Luke Hixson, active duty in the U.S. Navy
Fountain Valley, CA
What was your educational experience prior to WSP? Would you consider yourself a confident student?
Prior to attending WSP, my educational experience was limited to high school and the training schools completed in the Navy. I was a very confident--maybe too confident--student in high school. I graduated my junior year with a 4.3 GPA, taking honors-level and Advanced Placement classes. In the military schools, I was also awarded Honor Graduate for both Corpsman “A” School (Fort Sam Houston) and Field Medical Training Battalion-West (Camp Pendleton). I still consider myself a confident student to this day, as I identify as a life-long learner. There’s always something to learn, whether it is from a classroom setting or life’s experiences.
Had you participated in any sort of virtual learning before? If so, how does your WSP experience compare to that?
I have attended other programs through a virtual setting; however, my experience with WSP is second to none. I was a last-minute add to the WSP UCI cohort and submitted my application just days before the program began. To my surprise, multiple WSP fellows reached out to me to make sure I had the information needed for the first day of the “academic bootcamp.” I was able to easily navigate between the Google Drive/Docs, UCI WSP website, and Zoom. Despite using Zoom as our main virtual platform, the cohort was still able to break into smaller groups using “Breakout Rooms,” which further promoted cohesion and sharing ideas.
Why were you excited to participate in WSP this summer?
As mentioned earlier, I was a last-minute join to the UCI WSP program. Don’t let this fool you. Once I received my acceptance notification through the WSP website, I was ecstatic! As I am currently transitioning out of the Navy and planning to start college in the fall of 2021, I realized that WSP is an opportunity to emulate a college-level classroom before I begin my schooling. In retrospect, I also developed connections with other veterans and increased my networking opportunities.
What have you learned so far that you think will be helpful as you pursue your degree?
One of the most important things I’ve learned during WSP is how to break big assignments into smaller tasks. WSP gives the students a capstone project and during the week, assigns bits and pieces of the project each day. During my experience at UCI’s WSP program, I wrote a five-page analytical essay utilizing both classic and modern texts. If I was told to do this outside of WSP, I wouldn’t have known where to start. As I plan to pursue a bachelor of science degree with the ultimate vision of attending medical school, this is a very important concept to master. Narrowing bigger assignments to smaller tasks will improve my time management, which will enable me to devote more time for networking, volunteering, and self-care.
What was your favorite session, and why?
My favorite sessions were the “de-greening” lessons, which focused on transitioning from military culture into civilian culture. The military experience changes what “normal” is for any given service member. A perverse joke may be laughed and hollered at in a military environment but would be very inconsiderate and rude in civilian culture. I spent a rigorous week of communicating with a mix of veterans (who were at different stages of their transition), discussing hot topics, and sharing different ideas, regardless of rank, branch, background, or other identifying factors. When I completed the WSP program, I realized that the week-long program served as a testimony that I am capable of “de-greening.”
Are there any instructors or fellows who have made a difference for you at WSP?
I chose to write my capstone project from a very critical, cynical perspective of human nature; doing so, I struggled to write a solid thesis that would demonstrate my ideas using textual support. I began having second guesses on how I was tackling the essay and I was almost ready to start over--that is, until Derek, one of the WSP fellows, offered up a quote from one of the texts. I was able to use it to reinforce my thesis and finish the essay. I was close to the point of giving up, but Derek continued to encourage me in my writing.
Is WSP having any effect on how confident you feel as a student?
WSP served as both a reality check and a catalyst. The reality check is that the college learning environment is much more demanding than my previous high school environment; however, the completion of the program fuels my excitement to begin college and pursue attending medical school!