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by Yazgi Akata - unedited

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This text you are about to read was started over and over tens of times. At first, I tried to write it over Christmas, then on the plane when I was traveling to Istanbul, in Istanbul, and when I was traveling back to Buffalo. Going back and forth in my gallery, looking at pictures, reminiscing, remembering and realizing, I searched for the right words to completely carry the meaning of my gratefulness, joy, happiness for the journey and the growth this journey brings. While such a thing is quite impossible, this is an attempt to achieve it. 


Back in August 2022, I was clueless about how many adventures, friendships, relations were waiting for me, and how much I would love and grow through them. This semester has especially been the one that provided me with opportunities to improve myself in areas I never imagined before, become a more well-rounded person, it made me recognize the growth that has already taken place in me during my time at UB. 


I started my semester by working as a Welcome Weekend Leader at the university. Due to this job, I came back to Buffalo earlier than usual. While dorms were not open yet, I stayed with my lovely family at Buffalo, Seniz Ablacim ve Halit Abicim, who lovingly opened their hearts and home to me. Kicking-off a significant semester with family time was a wonderful experience and decision.


Working as a Welcome Weekend Leader was such a fun experience. I got to practice my leadership skills on a daily basis, and I also represented UB to incoming students, assisted them with their transition to college life, guided the path I once walked. My favorite part of the job though was connecting and working with fellow Welcome Weekend Leaders, Orientation Leaders and the Orientation, Transition and Parent Programs Office. 


This semester I also further got involved within my community and department by becoming an Undergraduate Teaching Assistant and a Sponsorship Lead for one of the largest student run events at UB- UBHacking. As an Undergraduate Teaching Assistant, I got to work closely with faculty and students, developed many new skills, further developed my other skills, and met many of my friends through this opportunity. Similarly, as a Sponsorship Lead for UBHacking, I got to build closer relations with a lot of great people in my department, connect and work with them. Working together on running an event as big as UBHacking was beyond rewarding. We brought over +500 hackers, faculty and companies from Western New York together for creativity, innovation and technology. Through this role, I further developed new professional skills and improved my other skills by raising the funds for the event, identifying potential sponsors, monitoring processes from initial outreach to on-boarding of companies long with my team. 


During this semester I really understood the importance of community, and felt grateful for mine countless times. There were times when I felt overwhelmed or burnt out or was learning. At these times, I turned to my YEF family, friends and faculty, to my community, and my community never failed to embrace me and light my way. Looking back at this semester, those moments are very precious and this has been my treasure. 


In addition to these experiences, I really enjoyed the autumn season this year. Dressed up as Lara Croft for Halloween, did a whole photoshoot with my friends in their backyard in honor of the spooky season, went pumpkin picking and carved it for the first time ever in my life. Followingly, I also went to my first concert this semester to see Jonas Brothers, which probably made the eight-year-old version of me beyond happy. 


Overall, Fall 2023 was a semester full of growth, experience and joy. Onto the next one!


Here are some visuals of these experiences:

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