My Experience at UM
Rachel NiederhofferClass of 2014
Majors: Psychology and Computer Science
Minors: Mathematics and Theater
For the past two years, I have been a Miami Hurricane. I have cheered on Sebastian the Ibis and worn flip flops every day of the school year. I have played Muggle Quidditch and raised money for blood cancer research. I have given campus tours and organized a Special Interest Housing floor for students who enjoy the Harry Potter novels. I have spent many hours studying in Richter Library and many evenings enjoying a burger with friends at the Rathskellar. I have seen shows at the Ring Theater and attended concerts at the Bank United Center. I have dressed in orange and green and thrown up the U, because I am a Miami Hurricane, and that is what we do.
Freshman year, I arrived at the University of Miami as a mechanical engineering major with minors in psychology and theater. After quickly realizing engineering wasn't for me, I switched to computer science and upgraded my psychology minor to a major. My Foote Fellowship, a fellowship offered to a select group of students at the time of admission that allows for the exemption from general education requirements, allowed me to add a mathematics minor to that mix as well. At countless universities, saying that you're a double-major-double-minor raises many an eyebrow, but at UM, it's not so uncommon. Something that does raise an eyebrow at UM, however, is saying that you participate in Muggle Quidditch.
Before I even got to UM, I knew I wanted to join Muggle Quidditch. An avid fan of the Harry Potter series, I had heard about it before even arriving at school, and when I saw the colorful tri-fold at Canefest, I knew I had to sign up. When I attended the first general meeting, the existing E-Board informed us that, seeing as the club had only been around for a couple of months, they still needed a treasurer! I quickly volunteered and thus became Head of Slytherin, aka the treasurer, immediately. I also became Awareness Chair for the Association for the Awareness of Blood Cancers. Another new organization, AABC required that I handle the PR and advertising for the club, while I organized the filming of a documentary, involving various cancer survivor students and professors, to be screened as a vehicle for awareness and as a fundraiser. I've been heavily involved with these two organizations for the past two years, in addition to larger ones like P100, which allows me to give campus tours and hopefully boost college enrollments, and Special Interest Housing, which allowed me to organize and run a Harry Potter Interest floor for people to live on (seriously), and I grow only more enthusiastic every semester about where they will bring me next.
My involvement in these organizations and my rigorous coursework at UM has always kept me busy. Over the past two years, my professors were so engaging and interesting, yet challenging at the same time, and always pushed me (and the rest of my class) to give more than our best. If I told you that the University of Miami was my top choice college or that I didn't get into other schools ranked more highly, I'd be lying. But I'm telling the truth when I say that the University of Miami is the one school that made me feel truly wanted, like I could achieve everything I ever wanted out of college and more, like I truly belonged. And that is so much more valuable than rankings alone. No other school would have helped me study four different disciplines with such ease. But upon my admission and scholarship interviews, UM discovered my desire to push the limits of what's considered a "normal" college education and immediately made it a realistic possibility. That's a school that values each student. That's a school that wants to make sure every student gets everything they could possibly want out of his or her education, because college is about learning everything you can while you can, about yourself, about your studies, about life, before you go out into the big, bad world. That's a school I find myself very proud to attend, for the past two years and for the next two to come.