It seems like it was just yesterday when I found myself entering UT as a freshman, suddenly thrust into the new, unpredictable, yet exciting world that is college.

This year, however, I am a senior.

Even now, it's difficult for me to accept that I'm beginning my last year here at UT. That being said, although I have learned many things during my time here, I still find myself learning new things all the time, as if I were still a freshman in college.

I vividly remember how worried I was about how my project for the Life of the Mind program would be received by my fellow freshmen. We were told the top 25 original responses to that year's book, "Mountains Beyond Mountains," by Tracy Kidder, would be entered into a contest and voted upon publicly.

I had heard about the contest the summer beforehand and decided to do my best on my project.

Although all freshmen had to submit a creative work about the book, I wasn't so much concerned about the grade as I was about finding my own potential. I didn't see the assignment as a simple, petty task – I saw it as a way to challenge myself and go beyond what was expected of me.

Over the course of several months, I did my best to include the themes of the book in my drawing. I created copies to fall back on in case I flubbed a draft. I did my best to mix-up colors and utilize shading to make it appear more realistic. I illustrated scenes that were thoroughly described in the book to make my work even more unique.

When all was said and done, I was happy with what I made. However, I did not expect it to enter the contest like it did. I was not aiming to win a public contest. Instead, I was aiming to win my own private challenge. I was thoroughly shocked when it was announced that I won. Although I will say it was very satisfying to win and get the iPad – admit it, most of you would feel the same way too – it was more satisfying to know that I was not only willing to challenge myself, but to actually go forward and do it as well.

Looking back on my sophomore and junior year, it seems that I had lost that desire to challenge myself. Instead, I had submitted myself into the dull repetitiveness and contentedness, only taking my classes and not going any further.

I was too content with my life, and as a result, I lost that spark that made my freshman year so fulfilling and productive. It is extremely disappointing that I never grabbed opportunities when I had so many available, and now I find myself as a senior, regretting not being more involved and active.

I won't let my last year here at UT be like the past two years. I intend to find that spark and ambition I had when I was a freshman and rekindle it. I intend to make this an audacious and auspicious year, and I will not let my past mistakes and regrets hold me down any longer.

Regardless of whether you are a freshman, sophomore, junior or a fellow senior, challenge yourself, both in and out of school. I don't intend to live this life with regrets, and neither should you.

Don't wait for the perfect moment. Take the moment, and make it perfect.

Jan Urbano is a senior in biological sciences. He can be reached at