Stay at Home Summer: Edward Freeman Uses Resilience Strategies to Navigate a Summer of Uncertainty
This month, the College of Sciences is checking in to see what our students are up to and how they’re doing. In the face of an unprecedented pandemic, we want to know: what does summertime look like? Read the other stories in our Stay at Home Summer series:
Edward Freeman, a fourth-year biology major on a pre-health track with a minor in Spanish, is using resilience strategies to navigate a summer of uncertainty. As he takes summer courses, tutors elementary and middle school students in Spanish, and connects with family and friends, he shares that he's prioritizing mental health and well-being.
“My summer has been somewhat of a non-stop rollercoaster, and quite busy,” he says. “With the current state of events and summer classes, there have been highs and lows, but I am determined to press on.”
Freeman says that a normal day “consists of Zoom meetings, tutoring sessions, homework, with self-care time,” but emphasizes that normal days are rare. He shares that he relies on his Google Calendar to navigate any unexpected tasks and activities each day.
This summer, Freeman is also busy sharing his new novel, “Standing: Stand on Who You Were Created to Be”, which he authored to talk about experiences and advice as a Georgia Tech transfer student, as well as a way to ‘help millennials and Gen Z push through adversity while pausing to evaluate the past’.
“I struggled with academic stress and feeling like I did not belong at Tech,” Freeman shares. “Imposter syndrome began to set in, and I felt that I wasn’t ‘smart enough’ or could not keep up with the pace. I am a 6’2” African-American male — and oftentimes in my classes I stand out like a sore thumb.”
In his book, Freeman shares positive, enduring methods that have been helpful in his journey.
“I had to rewire my thoughts with positive affirmations such as ‘I am enough’ and ‘I am capable of succeeding here,’” he says. “My grades saw a drastic improvement as I began to feel comfortable standing on who I was, and [how that related to] the challenges that were ahead of me.”
With lessons learned from the transition process, Freeman wrote “Standing” to share his experience with others in hopes that they, too, would learn to ‘build themselves up’.
“As students, we must use our words to positively speak over our lives, grades, and challenges we face inside and outside of the classroom,” Freeman says. “Standing on faith and my uniqueness has given me the peace of mind to conquer any obstacle in my way — including Organic Chemistry.”
Freeman believes that the message of “Standing” directly translates to current life, as people live through a global pandemic and address racial issues. He encourages the Georgia Tech community to “be effective and build inclusive environments where African-Americans can feel safe at home, in the classroom, and participating in regular day-to-day activities.”
“In the midst of chaos, I am reminded that I have to stand on the belief that the current state of events will improve,” says Freeman. He adds that students, staff, and faculty must unitarily address global issues. “In order to see effective change, we must stand together to face the racial injustices present and continue to educate others from a point of view that may be unseen. Using your gift to empower is the true definition of “Standing”.”
This summer, Freeman says that he’s also prioritized his own mental health by staying connected with loved ones, reading, and dedicating time to leisure.
“I enjoy spending time with family and catching up with friends over Zoom and Facetime,” he says. “I enjoy creating new content for my social media pages, and updating my personal library with new reads.”
Freeman also served on the Georgia Tech African American Student Union Executive Board from 2019-2020, works as a resident assistant in Georgia Tech Office of Housing, spoke at the 2019 MLK Student Convocation, and was recently honored as a Forbes Under 30 Scholar. He speaks Spanish, French, and Wolof, a language of Senegal, the Gambia and Mauritania.
He encourages others to take time for their own mental health and let go of the pressures of constantly seeking success.
“I feel that many times, as a young generation, we go through the pursuit of achieving success in careers without taking time to evaluate what is going on in our lives. In order to become well-rounded individuals, we must learn how to tune into ourselves mentally, emotionally, and spiritually.”