“When I applied to the Pure Water Access Project Fellowship as a second semester freshman I truly had no idea what I was getting myself into. I had no idea about a lot of things at that point actually—how to do laundry, how to put sheets onto a small lofted bed successfully, or how to use a public bus. I had grown up in a small rural town in southwestern Ohio and The Ohio State University felt large, ominous and a hugely terrifying. So when I applied to the fellowship I was still searching for something. A few weeks later I nervously interviewed and days later received an acceptance email. I remember sitting at PWAP orientation on a Sunday morning, surrounded by the other new fellows and feeling incredibly out of my league and more clueless than ever before. I kept thinking how did I get in, I don’t know how to fix anything, I don’t even know the first thing about water interventions let alone data driven approaches, also where is Sri Lanka again?
I was astounded by the accomplishments of the other fellows and felt the imposter effect coming on strong. I was terrified that I would not be able to keep up, that I would fail. But this past year in PWAP has changed my perspective in many folds. I’ve gained insight into one of the most pressing issues facing our planet today, assisted in planning a benefit banquet, met incredible entrepreneurs and advocates, updated our website, helped to jumpstart the non-profit blog, improved my scientific writing and so much more.
The most paramount contribution however, is that this fellowship has given me confidence. In PWAP we are given problems, often very ambiguous and told to try to solve them to the best of our ability. This daunting task in my first year is now a welcomed challenge. And I’ve learned that we are capable. I think that’s one of the greatest things about this fellowship-- giving undergraduate students the opportunity to truly make a dent in the planet, proving to themselves that this is possible. It’s often difficult and yes, often I have to watch a YouTube tutorial or two but I’ve come to realize that I am capable of learning and contributing to making a difference.
Confidence can be found in the success and failure. Through the feeling of failure and the glow of success I have begun to trust my own ability and to run towards uncertainty rather than away.”
Fellow Olivia Adkins