WSP Texas A&M 2020 Cohort Spotlight: Megan Byrd and Daniel Porter

Updated: Aug 13

Megan Byrd, U.S. Marine Corps veteran


Megan Byrd

What was your educational experience prior to WSP? Would you consider yourself a confident student?

The highest educational experience I have had was high school, and while in high school I took some advanced placement and dual enrollment classes, but it has been five years since I graduated. Besides going to Air Traffic Control school in Pensacola for the military, I have not had any other educational class experiences (unless you count Math for Marines). I feel I was a very confident student in high school and somewhat throughout the military when studying and taking tests. I was nervous at the idea of going back to school and getting back into the classroom but now, having gone through WSP, I feel I am a lot more prepared and confident to enter the classroom again and want to strive to attain the best in all my classes!


Had you participated in any sort of virtual learning before? If so, how does your WSP experience compare to that?

I had never experienced any virtual learning and was somewhat hesitant to apply to WSP because of it, but WSP did a wonderful job of thinking of every avenue and tool to make the process and program so much easier for the students. They sent all the materials in advance and worked with Google, Zoom, and several other websites to make the exchange of documents and feedback so much easier. It has greatly improved my outlook toward virtual learning.


Why were you excited to participate in WSP this summer?

I was excited to participate because I heard it was a college prep course for active duty/veterans and I was excited to take the first step of transitioning into college. I was also excited to be able to go through a course with many other individuals with the same background and to also build a community of individuals who have the same drive and determination with similar educational goals!


What have you learned so far that you think will be helpful as you pursue your degree?

I have learned the benefits of having study groups and individuals you can go to with questions if you are struggling, and I have so learned to be unafraid to ask for help, clarification, and to have educational discussions with the professors. Another thing I have learned is that if you are struggling with something, there is probably someone else struggling with the same thing, and you gain greater understanding when you help each in the classes and lectures you're in.


What were you looking forward to learning during STEM week?

The thing I was greatly anticipating in STEM week was the research projects and learning about bacterial flagellar motors! I am greatly enthusiastic about biological science and learning about the bacterial flagellar motors was so interesting! The research topics were really interesting also. The research projects got you out of your comfort zone and helped you learn something completely different that many of the participants had never experienced or worked with. We had the chance to utilize Python and also use some of the equations from the physics classes we were receiving in the evening.


What research project did you work on, and what did you learn from that experience?

The research project I worked on was calculating the mass of a black hole utilizing the period of a star that orbited the black hole, which had sets of coordinates for the star's various locations from 1994 to 2009. I learned that it's okay to go into something completely blind as long as you apply yourself and work together with others. I also learned to try not to get too discouraged because there is usually always someone who is willing to help! The only time something is extremely difficult is when you're too afraid to ask for help, so having the openness with your group and group leader to ask questions was so great and allowed us to work through everything smoothly.


Are there any instructors or fellows who have made a difference for you this week so far?

All the instructors, professors, and fellows were extremely helpful, encouraging, and attentive to all the participants and individuals. They accepted everyone's input and also pushed us to try and think harder, smarter, and think creatively and they were never degrading or belittling. Ana Vidal and Addy Evans, specifically, were always so helpful and very patient! They were constantly answering all my questions and inquiries and Ana was so willing to stay back and help me with any physics problems I struggled with. Even though I named those two specifically, I just want to give a big shout out to all the coordinators, instructors, professors, and fellows who helped orchestrate and execute both weeks! You all did amazing with the whole transition to an online platform!


Is WSP having any effect on how confident you feel as a student?

I believe WSP has most definitely boosted my confidence! I went into the course nervous and worried about college and wondering if I would do well in the classes and how they would be, but after completing both weeks of WSP I have so much more confidence and excitement as a student and freshman entering college out of the military. I would highly recommend this program for any military individual who is nervous, worried, or feels unprepared for college because this will give you confidence, resources, and a network of individuals just like you!


Daniel Porter, U.S. Air Force veteran


Daniel Porter

What was your educational experience prior to WSP? Would you consider yourself a confident student?

 I left for the Air Force exactly one week after graduating high school in 2016. Since then, I haven't had the opportunity to pursue further education due to rigorous training programs and several deployments. I was a confident student in high school, but the more time I spent away from academics, the less confident I became.

Had you participated in any sort of virtual learning before? If so, how does your WSP experience compare to that?

This was my first experience with any sort of virtual learning. I was skeptical at how effective this method of learning would be when the course began, but by the end of WSP, I had a newfound respect for online education. Face-to-face classrooms will always be the most effective way of teaching in my opinion, but technology allows for reliable alternatives.

Why were you excited to participate in WSP this summer?

I was ecstatic when I found out I was accepted for WSP after reaching out to several WSP alumni and learning their thoughts about the program. They all had positive experiences that equipped them with invaluable tools for a more successful pursuit of higher education. An organization like WSP can advertise a certain quality of training, but the real indicator of value is from the participants of the program. WSP has been so successful because it works.

What have you learned so far that you think will be helpful as you pursue your degree?

Throughout the two weeks of WSP we were given a firehose of valuable information that could be beneficial in different circumstances, but one topic stood out to me. We participants were constantly reminded about all of the resources that we have at our disposal. Whether it's a specific WSP fellow, a professor that hosted a lecture, or a specialized veteran advocate office, the message that WSP ingrained in us is that we are not alone in our educational goals.

What were you looking forward to learning during STEM week?

Although I've always struggled with math, that's what I was most looking forward to during STEM week. I learned more about problem-solving and deductive reasoning in one week than I learned in years of high school math courses. Having the opportunity to be reintroduced to certain math concepts was a huge confidence booster for me. 

What research project did you work on, and what did you learn from that experience?

I was a part of the research group that analyzed telescopic data to find exoplanets. In addition to learning a completely new coding language, I learned how scientists analyze limited data to find exoplanets and determine their distance, size, and orbit all through measuring minuscule differences in levels of light gathered from a telescope. 

Are there any instructors or fellows who have made a difference for you during WSP?

Every single WSP fellow I had the pleasure of meeting was beneficial to the course, but one, in particular, stood out to me. Max Martin was a remarkable WSP fellow throughout the course. He was professional, personable, and most importantly, knowledgeable. I'm a more confident student knowing I have someone like him at my disposal, should I need it.

Did WSP have any effect on how confident you feel as a student?

I'd recommend WSP to any active-duty or veteran considering higher education. This program allows a very low-threat introduction back into academics while simultaneously providing valuable tools for a student's toolkit. Returning to school is significantly less daunting after completing this course, as it's specifically designed by servicemembers, for servicemembers. 

Address:

National Headquarters 

202-796-8777​

1012 14th St NW #1200

Washington, DC 20005, USA

profile-PLATINUM2019-seal.png

Follow us

  • Facebook Social Icon
  • Twitter Social Icon
  • LinkedIn Social Icon
  • Instagram

WSP is a proud member of the Combined Federal Campaign. CFC: 58808​

© 2020 Warrior-Scholar Project is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization