‘Being here was my dream’ — freshman student reflects on new experiences at Kennesaw State

KENNESAW, Ga. | Jan 6, 2022

The first semester of college is a time of transition and growth as students spread their wings and begin to navigate their academic careers, discover new interests and make lasting memories. In recognition of that significant step, we are highlighting students who have just completed their first semesters at Kennesaw State University. Elliot Larez, who is from Venezuela and plans to pursue a degree in computer science, shares what made his first semester as an Owl meaningful.

Why did you decide to study at KSU? 

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I lived in Venezuela most of my life, and when I finished high school, I knew it would be a good opportunity to move to the United States and study computer science. The programs here have more advanced technology, and when I heard about KSU’s impressive computer science program, I decided to apply.

What are some of your favorite memories from your first semester? 
I really enjoyed the events the first week of school. The Division of Student Affairs planned a casino night, laser tag and a barbecue for new students, and I was able to meet so many people. Also, my first day of classes was an amazing, new experience. Just being here was my dream, so the first few days of classes, I was like, “Oh my gosh, this is real.” I’ve also really enjoyed getting to know my brand ambassadors’ group through the Office of Admissions.

How did your first semester of college compare to your expectations? 
I expected college to be a challenge for me. I expected to struggle with a new language and a new environment. I also thought I would just go to class and focus on my studies, but since I arrived here, it’s been much different than I expected! I’ve been able to understand everything, and even though English is not my native language, my professors have made sure I understand the assignments and are willing to help me if I need it. I also did not expect to have so much fun outside of class. I was so surprised when I saw the Game Room on the Marietta Campus with tons of computers and ping-pong tables. I’ve really enjoyed going there between my classes. 

As you adjusted to college this semester, who or what has been your greatest support at KSU? 
My professors have all been very nice, and I’ve learned a lot about the different programs KSU offers by looking at the KSU Admissions Instagram page. The advisors in the College of Computing and Software Engineering (CCSE) have also been very helpful when picking out classes and telling me about scholarships. 

Outside of class, what did you do to get involved at KSU in your first semester? 
Being a part of KSU Ambassadors is very cool because we do team-building activities and promote student life at the university. I really like that environment because it’s a great social group. I also really like spending time with other students in the Game Room on the Marietta Campus. It’s a place where I can meet new people and allows me to play computer games with my friends back in Venezuela.

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Did your college plan change at all during your first semester? 
When I got to KSU, I was pretty sure I wanted to study computer science, and now that I have learned more about the different career paths, I can explore in computer science. I know I made the right choice. I also enjoyed my economics and mathematics classes, so I am thinking about taking a minor in one of these areas. 

What was the most beneficial aspect of your first semester? 
Since I moved from a different country, I had to adapt to the U.S., and so many people at KSU have really helped me. I’ve been given new, academic opportunities from the KSU Journey Honors College. It’s helped me to build a life in the U.S., helped me meet friends and given me information on job opportunities. I’ve learned that KSU is a place where you really feel like you’re home. Even though I commute to campus, I feel like this is a second home for me where I spend most of my time and have already had a lot of good moments with good people. 

– Abbey O’Brien Barrows
Photos by David Caselli


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A leader in innovative teaching and learning, Kennesaw State University offers undergraduate, graduate and doctoral degrees to its more than 43,000 students. Kennesaw State is a member of the University System of Georgia with 11 academic colleges. The university’s vibrant campus culture, diverse population, strong global ties and entrepreneurial spirit draw students from throughout the country and the world. Kennesaw State is a Carnegie-designated doctoral research institution (R2), placing it among an elite group of only 7 percent of U.S. colleges and universities with an R1 or R2 status. For more information, visit kennesaw.edu.