Going Back and Giving Back

March 13, 2014 at 9:55 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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Tonight I received a phone call from the University I attended for my undergraduate studies. It was a typical annual fund call that I receive every year, and every year I say no.  I’m not the type not to give back and I donate to many causes, but in my mind, as long as I’m paying back my student loans, my college doesn’t need any more of my dollars.  But tonight was different.  Tonight, I changed my mind and gladly gave to the school that gave me so much, and here’s why.

Quite serendipitously, I actually spent the day on campus at my alma mater.  I had been connecting online with other alums and was asked to speak to current students about communications careers in the non-profit sector.   I had not been up on campus in several years and was looking forward to checking out the place I spent 3 formative years in my young life.

I was excited taking the 3 hour drive this morning and I found it surprisingly natural.  Every curve of the road was as if I had been on that road just the day before.  Driving through the town I had spent so much time in, I saw all that had changed and all that had stayed the same.  I drove passed my old apartment and my old dorm rooms before parking on campus.

Walking through the campus with students going about their day was almost like an outer body experience.  I must have looked strange, standing there in the blistering cold taking in the sights, but I wasn’t lost.  I was home.

Having the opportunity to share my experience after college with current students was a real privilege.  I knew all too well everything these students were feeling — the confusion, the anxiety, the wonder, all of it.  I watched as their faces lit up with excitement for all the possibilities to come.  What myself and my co-alum were saying was hitting home for them in a way no professor could.  We had been there, and look how far we’ve come.

Look how far we’ve come.  My, my.  I graduated from college at the end of 2004.  I have been working consistently in a steadily progressive career for 9 years.  I have climbed the ladder. I have learned so much.  I have a ways to go, but I have come so far.  

I set hefty goals for myself, and I push myself to achieve these goals at all costs.  This may sound like a good quality, but the downside to this is that when I don’t achieve what I set out to, I really beat myself up about it.  I have been so hard on myself as of late trying to determine what’s next on my journey, that I haven’t quite taken the time to reflect on how far I’ve come.

Talking with these students may have meant a lot to them, but it meant just as much for me.  In giving them hope, I allowed myself to be proud for at least a moment.

I am a proud alum. I have come so far and there is so much more greatness to come.  And that is why I gave back.

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