Embrace your opportunities

Honors student Sarah Hercules is making the most of her BGSU experience

Sarah Hercules

By Amber Stark ’99

Where some people see “another obligation,” Sarah Hercules sees opportunity – an opportunity to learn something new, to meet someone new, to grow.  

The third-year student at Bowling Green State University has a history of embracing new opportunities, and encourages other students to do the same.

“BGSU offers so many opportunities, embrace them,” is the advice she would give to new students. “I don’t ever question whether to embrace an opportunity. Instead, I have to determine which opportunities to embrace when they occur simultaneously.”

She suggests that students weigh their options and take initiative from the get go – something she did when her high school guidance counselor told her about the BGSU Award of High Distinction Scholarship, now the Presidential Scholars Award.

“I had heard about BGSU, but I didn’t know much about it,” she said. “I didn’t think it’d hurt to apply.”

One visit later, on Scholar Day, and she was hooked.

“I absolutely loved it,” she said. “I immediately felt that the school cared about me as an individual. I valued the community, coming from a small community, and the resources of a large university.

“Deep down, I knew Bowling Green was where I was meant to be.”

“Deep down, I knew Bowling Green was where I was meant to be.”

Hercules said that coming to BGSU was one of the best decisions she’s made, and that embracing that opportunity set in motion many, many more opportunities.

Once she arrived on campus, a week before most students because she’s a twirler in the Falcon Marching Band, she said she “didn’t give [herself] a chance to breath.” She lived in the Honors Learning Community her first two years on campus, and quickly got involved.

She’s the current president of Alpha Lambda Delta-Phi Eta Sigma and a member of Phi Kappa Phi, Phi Beta Kappa, Omicron Delta Kappa, the Actuarial Science Club and Gamma Iota Sigma.  She is also in the Honors College, a tour guide and a scholar recruitment coordinator.

“Alpha Lambda Delta-Phi Eta Sigma provides opportunities for national conferences, networking, scholarship, leadership and service,” Hercules said, adding that the other organizations offer similar opportunities. “They are not just something you join to put on your resume. You get out of them what you put in.”

These opportunities led Hercules to her Honors College project, which she combined with the capstone for her major, data science. Her project looks at college applicant and retention data to predict student success in the Honors College. She will present and publish this project, which focuses on under-represented students.

Hercules’ major and minor, insurance, did not exist when she started at BGSU, but she embraced the opportunity to switch to them on the suggestion of a professor.

“Data science is up and coming,” she said. “It will market my skills in a broader way – what does data mean, how do you analyze it, what does it show us? It can be applied to a wide variety of fields, criminal justice, insurance, biology.”

While she doesn’t know exactly where she’ll use these skills after graduation, Hercules is getting experience necessary for the decision-making process.

“An internship isn’t required by my major, but it’s a way into entry-level positions,” she said.  

Her first internship, with the Cincinnati Insurance Companies, in the property-casualty field, dealt with driverless cars, quantifying how they would impact companies. This summer, after receiving offers from all three places she applied, she will intern at Northwestern Mutual in Milwaukee, in the life insurance field.

“Now I will have internships on both sides,” she said. “When I pick a career direction, I’ll know why, I’ll know how it fits with my values. I want to be fulfilled at the end of the day, and love my job.”

Until that time comes, after graduation in May 2018, Hercules will continue making the most of the opportunities that cross her path.

“I could’ve graduated early, but I had no desire to,” she said. “You’re going to work the rest of your life. I want to embrace opportunities. I wanted to be here for four full years.

“I wish I knew how quickly it would go by.”