The five-year journey of Mykaiah Clermont
When Mykaiah Clermont started his journey as a first-year, he described himself as a “yes man,” looking to be involved in every and any way possible. Now a fifth-year civil and environmental engineering major, Clermont has experienced the ups and downs that have humbled him and kept him in line. He hopes his story will shed light on the realities and remedies of the college experience.
“I did everything I possibly could have wanted to do,” Clermont said. “I made the one mistake of taking 18 units my first quarter — not a good choice. I joined seven different clubs; I would spend so many hours outside of my dorm, and I was doing so much. I was with club soccer, club tennis, I also got involved in Band-Uh, all these different clubs.”
One of Clermont’s biggest challenges was finding time to be with his core group of friends. Being so involved meant he was meeting so many new people. With classes to juggle and a social life to maintain, Clermont struggled with giving everyone a share of his time.
“The hardest thing was that I didn’t have much down time,” Clermont said. “I would get maybe four or five hours of sleep. I didn’t really take care of myself. I wanted to do everything and please everyone. Looking back, I can definitely say that I did everything I wanted to do, but I should have taken my time and spaced things out throughout my entire year.”
Though Clermont learned valuable lessons about balance his first year, he still finds that, in his fifth year, he is learning more about himself and using the extra time he has in school to get what he wants out of the experience.
“This year has been the most revealing year of what I feel like I’m capable of,” Clermont said. “Mental health is a real big thing that people don’t take into consideration. In high school, we used to be able to do it all: wake up at 5:30, get to school by 7, go all the way through your day until 3, do any extracurriculars and still manage to get A’s in all our classes. In college, it’s a lot more stressful in the aspect of there being a lot more work with less class time to do it in. I feel like I push a lot of stuff off in order to take care of other things, and I get behind and feel overwhelmed.”
Clermont stressed that students should look into campus resources including Student Counseling and Health Services, something he believes is a huge benefit for anyone that needs to let off some steam in the midst of a stressful quarter. He described his fourth and fifth years as revelations, and this crucial year has allowed him to allocate time where he sees fit, taking care of what’s important to him and his well-being.
During his academic journey, Clermont was planning to graduate on time alongside his peers but described the hardship that lead to his fifth-year position.
“I originally was a triple major in my sophomore and junior year, doing mechanical engineering, aerospace engineering, and biological system engineering, and that was not fun,” Clermont said. “As I was going through those processes, I was taking 18 to 19 units per quarter, and still trying to find time by lowering my extracurriculars a lot […] I eventually switched from the triple major to just being in civil engineering.”
Clermont’s original plan, like many students, was completely rearranged, leading to stress over a lot of the stereotypes that surround taking a fifth year.
“I was thinking, ‘I’m not gonna graduate in four years. What are people going to think of me?,” Clermont said. “Am I gonna be a failure that has to take a fifth year?’ Being a fifth-year is about timing and spacing. Taking this extra year has been beneficial because I’ve been able to take less units and also I’m able to make a great amount of friends. Yes, there’s that stigma that I’m a little bit older, but I have wisdom that I can share with people who are on my same level.”
Clermont is fully aware of the difficulties of entering a fifth year. He lost some friendships along the way and had to take on more adult responsibilities on his own time, but he embraced these challenges and used them to fuel his desire to be better. Joining clubs early on helped Clermont find the confidence to make new connections and guide others along in their own journeys.
In the middle of his fifth year, Clermont still finds himself indulging in the activities he has enjoyed since his first year, while also making time to take on new opportunities.
“Currently, I’m involved in billiards club,” Clermont said. “I play a lot of pool, it’s one of my favorite pastimes. I still play club soccer. I have two jobs in undergraduate admissions, I’m a tour guide and a public advisor, and I’m looking for a job at a microbrewery. Overall, I’m trying to be involved as much as I can while also maintaining friendships.”
In making strong connections, Clermont found that taking time both inside and outside of the classroom to find new friends has been an integral part of maintaining a healthy social life.
“Within my undergraduate years, I ended up meeting my core group of friends; I call them my physics squad because I met them in physics class,” Clermont said. “We all came together for a study group, became really good friends and did great things together after that quarter.”
Clermont’s friend-making strategy echoes one that many students live by: You have to reach out first.
“I had to reach out to them, I had to be charismatic,” Clermont said. “You have to get over that whole ‘I don’t wanna talk to anyone’ phase. In the club aspect, especially with club sports, I’m living with a couple guys I met through club sports. I maintained those friendships through games, practices, all those different outlets. I also joined a fraternity and I made really good friends in that experience as well. Overall, clubs are a great way to find people with similar interests, and classes are great to find people with similar knowledge.”
While discussing his career goals, Clermont’s one indisputable pursuit was to make the world a happier place. By taking his degree with him into the beer industry and investigating water quality inside of beer, Clermont believes he can make the world better by creating changes in areas he sees fit. The happiness spread in a nearby pub can eventually make its way to someone dearly in need of a smile to change their day.
Clermont shared a mantra that has since changed his life for the better and set him on the path of creating a happier world. He attributed it to Dr. Charles Bamforth, a professor in the food science and technology field: “The life of one candle will not be shortened by lighting other candles. Happiness cannot be diminished by being shared.”
Written by: Vincent Sanchez – firstname.lastname@example.org