When Opportunity Knocks

Posted by Anja Sheppard

I was a huge bookworm when I was younger, and one of my all-time favorites was “The Mysterious Benedict Society”, which featured four incredibly smart kids who had to work together to save the world. One of the puzzles that each child had to face was a maze of doorways leading into dark identical rooms. One kid used clues hidden on panels in each room to solve the enigma, another brute-forced every possible door combination, and a third skipped the maze altogether by crawling through the air vents. Each had their own unique take on the situation based on their resources and prior knowledge.

My experience as a freshman McDermott scholar at UT Dallas makes me feel like the 2018 class of scholars is becoming their own “Mysterious McDermott Society,” as we’re all learning to face different challenges and tackle problems using our intellect and teamwork skills. I’ve grown to be a great appreciator of doors through this problem-solving process. Their symbolism, artistic capability, and significance in my life have allowed me to define many of my experiences through the opening (and closing) of doors.

My house, North Carolina: Where it all began. I’ve lived my entire life behind my plain brown wooden front door in Chapel Hill, NC and the slightly-deteriorating-particle-board-door-that’s-been-slammed-too-many-times of my room. I never expected to miss these rather boring doors, but I can’t wait to go back home and see them over Thanksgiving break.

Carved from a lovely bark (look in the bottom left if you don’t get it)


Immaculate Heart of Mary, Santa Fe: Each new class of McDermott Scholars takes a trip to New Mexico before their first semester. I fell in love with the Pueblo-Spanish style of architecture present on the walk from our lodgings to the center of the city. This crazy trip full of rafting, hiking, group discussions, and bonding gave our class the keys to success as scholars.



New Friends: Although Patricia and Solvay look a bit unhinged at the prospect of this really cool door we saw in Santa Fe, I’m here to set the record straight. Every single person in the 2018 McDermott class is incredible, and I’m so glad I got to bond with them through late night board games and philosophical discussions under the stars. I’m so grateful I decided to come to UTD and got to meet these people.



Res Hall South: My new home! The doors in RHS are rather plain, but the new and exciting experiences we have together our freshman year will certainly make up for it.

How adoorable


The Heart of Dallas: Within the first weekend, I had already whisked myself away to downtown Dallas to see the Dallas Museum of Art, Klyde Warren Park, and the Meyerson Symphony Center. Cityscapes make for some prime photo-taking opportunities.



Madrid: I was lucky enough to get the incredible opportunity to present with my high school robotics team at ROSCon Madrid, an international robotics conference. While there, I made tons of amazing new connections with professionals in my dream career, opening doors to potential internship opportunities in the summer. Of course, I also explored the beautiful old Spanish city and took numerous door pictures (much to the annoyance of my colleagues).



Old Friends: In the midst of all of these adventures, I make a big effort to stay in touch with my friends from high school. One of them is attending Carnegie Mellon University and couldn’t help sending me this incredible door picture she captured in Pittsburgh!



Culver’s: I only recently became aware of the magic of Culver’s and their frozen custard, but many trips have been made to the popular midwest chain that is only thirty minutes away from campus!  As Culver’s promises: “Every guest who chooses Culver’s leaves happy.”

Not pictured: the five people waiting to leave, wondering what new antics the kids these days are getting into


San Antonio: College is the best time for impromptu road trips. So impromptu road trip we did. A band of Wisconsinites, Washingtonians, and North Carolinians headed down to San Antonio for the weekend, seeing the Buc-ees, the Alamo, the River Walk, the Wienermobile, and even a double rainbow! Let’s not forget about the beautiful door framed by the iconic Alamo façade.

“Ah, yes, I remember this door” – Davy Crocket, probably


As my first semester at UTD comes to a close, I’ve been reflecting about all of the incredible doors I’ve seen, opened, and walked through. As Dallas County District Judge Moye likes to put it: “the door is the floor.” Our perception of the way things are is based on how they’re presented to us. When you flip those perspectives around, you never know what sort of opportunities may open. 

Psst. Follow my door instagram: @adoorable__


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