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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Back to School!

April 12, 2013 at 8:59 pm | Posted in Career Moves, Life and Living | Leave a comment
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It’s an idea I have been toying with for a long time.  I was told that I didn’t need to go, that it wouldn’t help me further my career.  I, of course, worried about the cost, and going back 9 years later, but here I am.  The time seems right, and I am proud to say I have been accepted to grad school!

I didn’t want to say anything.  I didn’t want to jinx it.  I only applied to the one program, so if I didn’t get in, it wasn’t going to happen.  I studied really hard for the GREs (I am so out of practice in studying, but the GREs were still one of the hardest things I have ever done).  Those who knew I applied were certain I’d get in, but I know nothing in life is certain.  I am confident in my experience, but, just like a new job, you don’t know who is making the decisions and if they will agree that you are a good fit.

But here I am, ironically sitting in an industry conference learning when I get the news.  I got in.  Altogether I am proud of myself, super happy and super nervous.  But it’s something that I want and I will make it work.

I don’t know what I will learn when I go back to school, but I know it will be a challenge.  It will be an adjustment, and at the end of the day, I have to believe that the investment will pay off.

I may find that I am the oldest person in my classes, that the other students went straight from college to grad school, never truly experiencing the industry.  I learned so much about the industry on the job, that learning how to learn in an educational setting will be like new for me.

So that’s what’s next for me.  A thirty year old going back to school.  I am sure I will have plenty to share with my loyal readers.  I look forward to taking you on this journey with me!

Seniors

January 22, 2013 at 7:30 am | Posted in Life and Living | Leave a comment
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This past weekend I went to my old high school to see the senior show.  My best friend from when I was in high school was directing it, and I always go to her shows to support her.  But this show was different for me than any in the past.  Aside from being in my old high school, I actually knew some of the kids.  They were kids that I babysat when they were 3,4, and 5 years old.  As the show went on, I didn’t even recognize 2 of them, but 1 I knew, and when she started singing her solo, I was amazed and almost brought to tears with the voice that came from her.  I was so proud, all these years later.

Truth be told — if someone was to point out one of my babysitters from when I was a kid, I would not remember them to save my life.  But I couldn’t resist.  I recognized the parents of one of the kids in the audience and had to introduce myself.  I hadn’t seen them since I was 17, but I don’t look that different and they remembered me.  They pulled their son over to meet me again, and I knew he wouldn’t remember me. Like I said, he was way too young.  But before me was a man, a 16 year old man that I used to care for.  It was a very sobering reality that I really am not a kid anymore. How can I be?  The kids I watched aren’t kids anymore.

Back to the girl with the solo.  I got to see her and her parents after the show and was amazed that she actually remembered me.  She was one of my favorite kids (I probably watched over 20 kids in my 6 year career as a babysitter), and she said to me, “You were my favorite babysitter!” and I just melted.  I could hold on to that moment forever.

In watching the show, I was really taken back to when I was once on that same stage.  I remember my relationships and the social situation in school.  I remember and still reminisce about the crazy and sometimes stupid things I did at that age.  As I watched these young men and women bop around on stage for what is likely to be for most of them the last time they ever do something like that, I realized that it was their turn, that these young people were doing all the things that I did.

After a wide-eyed mini heart attack I realized that that was the time to do this.  I came to college way ahead of many of my classmates because of my experiences in high school.  Through my work I see a very different kind of teenager, an urban teenager.  They don’t have the same life experiences as these suburban kids for sure.  They have to deal with much more serious stuff.  These kids have very little to worry about and can make many dumb mistakes knowing that in the end, everything will be okay.

I also realized this.  Some of the emotions you have in high school don’t change.  I look at people I knew when I was young who married their high school sweethearts and I realize how important those formative years really are.  What age does for you is give you more time for more experiences, more time apart from what has happened to review with a new perspective.  There is a lot that you learn, but you can be just as confused or just as certain in your emotions at 30 as you are at 18.

In being with these kids, I immediately felt the need to care for them, to mentor them, kind of like a big sister.  They are about to go off on their next journey, one where they will have to take on a new world of responsibility that they never knew before.  I wanted to hold them close and let them know that it will be fun and it will be okay.  But somehow, they will learn this their own way, as I have.

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