Published by the Students of Johns Hopkins since 1896
December 3, 2021

Lessons from being an FYM

By MADELYN KYE | October 25, 2021

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COURTESY OF MADELYN KYE

Kye learned more about herself through being a First-Year Mentor.

I applied to be a First-Year Mentor (FYM) on a whim, not expecting to actually be hired. Mostly, I applied so I could tell myself (and my parents) that I had at least attempted to get an on-campus job.

Accordingly, I was surprised when I received a congratulatory email with a job offer. I knew that my interview had gone well, but I had assumed that my relative lack of involvement on campus at that point would hinder any chance I might have had. Furthermore, I no longer believed I had the personality of a cheery camp counselor, something I figured an FYM was supposed to have. 

It should be mentioned that I had considered myself an extrovert for the majority of my life, but following 2020’s quarantine and 2021’s relatively uneventful spring semester, I had relabeled myself an introvert.

This in mind, I was hesitant when I moved in Aug. 15 to undergo a week of FYM training. On the first day, the only people I knew well enough to strike up a conversation with were the people from my PILOT group; a girl who was in one of my smaller, discussion-based spring classes; and the girl whose parents my parents had made small talk with during move-in. In short, my first few days back in Baltimore were spent debating whether to reach out to acquaintances and lounging in my room, wishing I had something to do.

As the week of training progressed, strangers turned to acquaintances and my acquaintances turned to friends: Anthony, who had been in my spring PILOT group, sits across from me as I write this piece and Abbie, the girl I’d met during move-in, now joins my roommate and I on our (dreaded) weekly trip to Giant. 

Despite making friends with other FYMs before the week of training ended, I was nervous about meeting my “mentees.” I did not feel at all prepared to tap into my inner camp counselor, considering the last time I had exhibited that persona was my junior year of high school. When I stepped out onto Homewood Field, “#77” poster in hand (my group number), I was apprehensive as to how I was meant to welcome 18 freshmen to Hopkins in an extremely chaotic environment. 

What I did not expect was the rush of energy, the feeling not of ineptitude but instead certainty that it was going to be a good week.

I was cynical when I was hired, I know. But after making many genuine friends during FYM training and facilitating connections among those in my FYM group, I stopped labeling myself as an introvert. Being an FYM brought me back to who I was before the pandemic in the best way: I felt I had experienced my own reintroduction to college, meeting a large number of people all at once in the way I would have had I been on campus my freshman fall. I am far less resentful toward the world for taking away the freshman year experience I felt I deserved. 

Essentially, being an FYM brought back the person that quarantine forced into a state of hibernation. Now, I am as extroverted as I was before March of 2020 and I have been getting increasingly involved on campus. I am the extrovert I was as a senior in high school meshed with the person I have grown to be over the course of the last year and a half. 

I am no longer surprised that I was hired; the job was as good of a fit for me as I pretended I thought it was when I filled out the application. I’m not sure where I would be without it: Being an FYM led me to so many people that I may have never interacted with otherwise. It brought me closer to myself.

Madelyn Kye is a sophomore from Long Island, N.Y. majoring in Writing Seminars and International Studies. Her column discusses people and things that have entered and exited her life, often through the lens of growing up.

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