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Making new friends a necessity for fun, and help with chemistry

Meet the freshmen: halfway

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Malikha Daniels with fellow cheerleader Toiya Craig
Malikha Daniels, right, at her first game with fellow cheerleader Toiya Craig: “It’s hard work, but it’s kind of like any other sport — if you like it, you’re really willing to work to get better.”

This fall, UIC welcomed nearly 3,000 new students to its freshman class. UIC News will follow four of them — Brandon Bell, Malikha Daniels, Parthiv Patel and Camille Sanchez — through the challenges and opportunities they encounter in beginning their college careers.

In September, we spoke with them as they settled in. Here's the second round of interviews, soon after midterms.

College classes haven’t exactly been what Malikha Daniels expected.

She thought she’d breeze through Chemistry 101 and English 160. She worried that her Math 121 class would be her biggest obstacle.

But her chemistry class is difficult and English is harder than she expected. She’s surprised to be thriving in her math class.

“I’ve realized that there are some subjects I’m not that great in, and some that I’m good in that I thought I was bad in,” she said.

“I wanted to get really good grades, but this stuff is really hard. I’m really trying.”

Her tough chemistry class has caused Daniels to rethink her biological sciences major, but she’s not ready to make any decisions.

“I think I’m going to stay with what I’ve got, but I’m not sure.”

What’s been so difficult about chemistry, Daniels said, is that the grade is based solely on tests and quizzes.

“It’s the most challenging class I’ve had in my life,” she said. “It’s kind of hard comprehending the questions and the way they ask them.”

She’s found support from other students in James Stukel Towers, where she lives in the wing designated for students in the Women in Science and Engineering Program.

She works with tutors from the WISE program and studies in the lounge with other students from her floor.

“We’re all science majors, and you can always find at least three people who have the same class,” she said.

Now she’s trying to manage schoolwork and her busy schedule as a cheerleader.

Daniels cheered at her first UIC sporting event Nov. 6, a women’s basketball game at the UIC Pavilion. She will cheer at all men’s and women’s basketball home games.

“You get to get the crowd involved and you have to be happy all of the time,” she said. “It comes naturally, so I don’t have to force myself to smile too much — unless my cheeks start hurting.”

Daniels spends about six hours a week in cheerleading practice.

“It’s hard work, but it’s kind of like any other sport — if you like it, you’re really willing to work to get better,” she said. “I remember the moves, it’s the words that give me a hard time. I’m pretty sure by December I’ll be all right.”

Daniels is also a member of the Multi-Ethnic InterVarsity Christian Fellowship. She said her faith is important, so she looked for a spiritual outlet as soon as she arrived on campus.

“Everybody’s really warm and friendly,” she said. “I’ve met a lot of friends.”

Daniels travels home to Country Club Hills almost every weekend to see friends and family or run errands.

“I know I’m paying to be here, but I still go home a lot,” she said. “Sometimes, it’s kind of boring at home, but it’s also peaceful because you don’t hear ambulances or all the traffic.”

When she’s on campus, Daniels makes sure to set aside time to catch a movie or eat at a Maxwell Street restaurant with her friends, she said.

“Most of them have the same mindset as me — let’s get our work done and then be social,” she said. “And we’re still sociable while we’re studying.”


Keep up with the other freshmen:

'I've always liked pressure and stress'

Keeping afloat with heavy course load

All-nighters and a daily commute

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