The University of Massachusetts Amherst
University of Massachusetts Amherst

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Shazeb Meraj


I am currently a sophomore psychology major here at UMass. I'm a member of the Medical Reserve Corps, a General Chemistry tutor, and an occasional waiter at an IHOP in Central Mass. Catch me up in Orchard Hill or studying in South College.

My Content

My Spring 2019 Schedule

UMass dorms in winter

A new year has arrived, and with it a new semester. Vacation is fun and all, but I, for one, am excited to be back at UMass and resuming academics and extracurriculars. Right now is the calm before the storm. We’re well into our second week of classes, but add-drop period is not quite over yet. We have a few more days to relax before homework and tests really begin to pile on. So, in this first post of the new semester, I’m going to tell you guys about all the classes in my schedule.

New Years Resolutions

UMass Amherst library and Old Chapel silhouetted at sunset

It’s now February. New Year's was a whole month ago. But the semester has only just begun, so I don’t think it’s too late to make some UMass-related resolutions. These resolutions are goals I hope to accomplish over the next few months while I’m on campus, and they all have something to do with the classes and resources at UMass. Here goes.

Applying to Medical School

Morrill Science Center

This week, an admissions officer from UMass Medical School came to visit and talk about medical school and the application process. Being a pre-med student, I attended, and I'm glad I did. The information was invaluable, and it let me know exactly what kind of things can make me stand out as an applicant. Getting into medical school is extremely competitive, so it’s important to take certain steps to strengthen your application. Here are some of the biggest takeaways from the meeting in terms of what you can do as an undergraduate student to stand out.


Applying to be an RA

Grayson Field bulletin board

This morning I submitted my application for a position as a Resident Assistant, or RA, at UMass. The duty of an RA is to manage the residents who live in your hall and facilitate a welcoming environment that people can thrive within. I want to be an RA because during my freshmen year, I probably learned more about college and post-high school life from my RAs than anyone else. Like every other college freshman, I was extremely nervous in the first few weeks. But, my RAs helped alleviate that tension by reaching out to me and my fellow residents in a very personal manner. They’re like a friend and mentor built into one. They taught me everything from how to navigate the academic environment and study hard, to how to make friends and step out of my comfort zone. I want to give back by potentially becoming an RA myself and having my own set of residents to help.

Best Floors in the Library

UMass library at sunset

The W. E. B. Du Bois Library is the largest public academic research library in all of Massachusetts, and the tallest university library in the world. It’s clear from the towering size of the library that it truly is something special. I consider the library to be the North Star of the UMass Amherst campus. If I’m ever lost or slightly confused about my location, I look to the library looming in the horizon to reorient myself. The library is so big, and has so many services that it’s impossible to take advantage of, or even know, all of them. So, I’m going to tell you about some of the coolest floors and services that the library has to offer.

The UMass Comedy League

UMass Comedy League

One of the best ways to spend your weekend nights on campus is to attend one of the UMass Comedy League’s improv shows. My roommate is a member of one of the improv troupes, so I attend somewhat frequently. I’ve never come out disappointed. These shows are hilarious! It’s pretty impressive to watch performers come up with funny scenes on the spot with absolutely no preparation.

Cool Class Corner: My Body, My Health

UMass students

One of the most unexpectedly interesting classes I’m taking this semester is My Body, My Health. It’s a public health course that fulfills some basic general education requirements and is also a requirement for any public health majors. I’m considering a double major so I decided to take this class to get an idea of what this path has to offer. I can confidently say that this class has been one of the most rewarding I have ever taken.

My Weekend at UMass Amherst: October 12-14

UMass students

Fall has always been my favorite season. With fall comes the new school year, and the beginning of so many things. For example, sports. On Friday, I got to go to the first hockey game of the season. I’ve never been huge on watching sports, and didn’t think I’d be into following our college teams, but last year I got an (unpaid) job as the social media coordinator for UMass’s television news team. One of my duties in this role was to stay in the loop on the standings of our various sports teams. Because of this, I really started to become invested in some of our teams, our hockey team in particular.

Succeeding in College Chemistry

Building molecules in a UMass chemistry class

In high school, chemistry was the bane of my very existence. I would sit there as my teacher mindlessly droned on and on. Each word he spoke went in one ear and out the other. My focus was always on the clock, never on the material. I realize in hindsight that the problem was in fact me and my lack of attention, not the teacher. So, I decided that in college I would start taking some personal responsibility and pay attention in lectures. I expected that this would allow me to succeed in the class, but not necessarily enjoy the material. Surprisingly, I was wrong.

Apple Picking in Northampton

UMass students apple picking

There’s no better place to be living in the Fall than in Amherst. From the colorful leaves to the cool air, you’ll get the authentic seasonal experience. Now it is possible to find all of this on campus, but I recommend stepping out once in a while to see what the surrounding towns have to offer. That’s exactly what I did last weekend.

Family Night in Amherst

UMass student and family eating out at an Amherst restaurant

Recently, my family came to visit me here in Amherst. They brought my uncle, who was visiting from Seattle, where he lives. My uncle doesn’t come too often so this was quite possibly the one time I was going to be able to show him around Amherst. All he knew about this town was that it’s tiny, quaint, and a little less than two hours from the big city of Boston. So, I took it upon myself to show him just how fun Amherst really is.

The Life and Times of a CNS Major

CNS students studying

College is a challenging time for every student. The cool thing about UMass is that you can find every kind of student here on campus. We have such a diverse student body and opportunities for everyone. So whether you’re a poetry whiz, a soil enthusiast, or even a horse lover, there’s something here for you. (I’m not joking when I say I’ve found people studying in all three of these unconventional subjects). But there is one thing that every UMass student has in common: They need to work hard. It’s no secret that UMass is becoming increasingly competitive. To excel here, you must be be driven to succeed.