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Physics Alumni Profile
DaiLynn Dietz (2017)
Physics is not easy to study, but that might be the most valuable aspect of it. Very few people use what they learned in school in their work, but I learned something unique that applies to all areas of my life. Physics taught me how to struggle, how to be wrong, and how to work through the seemingly impossible.
The physics program at GVSU offered me many scenarios that have become a theme in my life. When working on homework, many professors encouraged the students to collaborate. Through this, I was able to learn how to have my ideas challenged openly, how to hear someone out who has different ideas than me, and how to effectively communicate in stressful situations. Another important phase of growth was the senior project that all physics majors do in their senior year. I had to learn how to identify a problem to work on (I chose to look at the polarization of light off butterfly scales!), how to create a plan of attack to research the problem, and keep myself on task. I had never needed to self-motivate as much as I did then, but little did I know most of my work life right after graduation would hinge on my finding my own projects and creating my own plan of action to implement them
Now that I've graduated and gotten an office job as an Application Engineer at Steelcase in Grand Rapids, MI, I find that nothing I do now comes close to the difficulty of the problems I faced in college. As a result, I can take on challenges that others find too much to bear with ease, and can dust myself off almost immediately after a setback. This resiliency has served me very well so far, impressing my superiors, allowing me to excel in my work, and to be offered numerous other opportunities, such as leading cultural change in the company, helping run fundraising campaigns for non-profits, and developing new outreach platforms for community engagement. Any time I get an opportunity to consult on a physics problem,
Physics helped me gain an unshakable confidence in my ability to work through really hard problems and to fail without fear. It's served me well in all aspects of my life, including work, prioritizing my activities in my free time, and knowing how to overcome challenges of all sizes. Even if you don’t think you want to do physics forever, the physics program at GVSU can give you the skills be a rock star in whatever career you find yourself in.
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