Written by Nii Kpakpo Abrahams, Career Center Peer Advisor, Bachelor of Science in Communication—Ethical Leadership, and soon-to-be Graduate Student in Communication
Nelson Mandela once asserted, “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” Within one week, the pinnacle goal of my life since I was in kindergarten will have been achieved—graduating and receiving a diploma. As I enter into the “real world” with this carefully crafted weapon, it is imperative that I leave behind some imparting nuggets of wisdom to those who are still climbing that mountain.
Don’t Take Your Education for Granted
One of my biggest pet peeves is watching smart people waste this incredible opportunity. According to the Huffington Post, only 6.7% of the entire world has a college degree. Your college experience is training you to be one of the top people that the world has to offer. DON’T WASTE IT. I’ve seen too many of my peers take this amazing opportunity (notice how I didn’t say right) and squander it on partying and sleeping through classes. The educational knowledge you gain, alongside with the life lessons you learn, will make you the best person you can be—but only if you allow it. Engage in class, seek out and listen to mentors, and maximize your gifts and abilities.
Don’t Let People Tell You the Real World Will Eat You Up
One thing that I never understood was the notion that we aren’t living in the “real world.” Granted, our lives are different in college than if we were working 9-5, but we are living in the real world—and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise! The real world is the world that we are living in now. So instead of allowing people’s words about the next phase after college scare you, embrace the world you are living in now and learn as much as you can from it. Because let’s be honest: college is HARD. Living on our own for the first time, establishing whole new friendships, completing challenging coursework, worrying about a future career, and of course finding our significant other are enough to make a normal human being cringe. Yet we accept the notion that what we are doing now is nothing compared to after college. Don’t give in to that!
I was so blessed to receive one of the best internships around working for Cora Scott, the Director of Public Information and Civic Engagement for the city of Springfield. I’ll be working 40 hours a week during the summer, making great money, and doing the things I love the most: being a part of a team, working in a fast-paced environment, and serving people! The crazy part is, I didn’t apply for this internship or look this up on a job website—I just knew people. Without going into too much detail on how I got the position, just know this: people and connections can be your best asset in life. All the jobs I’ve ever had within the University have been because of my connections with people. Now that doesn’t mean view people as commodities, but don’t be afraid to take advantage of the wonderful things people around you are doing! Just as you will have the opportunity to pave the way for someone else to grow, allow others to do the same for you.
As I look back at my four years I’ve been able to do a lot: Resident Assistant, SOAR leader, President of Chi Alpha Campus Ministries, Legislative Director in SGA, Homecoming King, and multiple search committees. But at the end of the day, if it weren’t for the good people surrounding me that were willing to keep me grounded and pour great wisdom and advice into me, I wouldn’t be who I am today. My final piece of advice is this: SURROUND YOURSELF WITH GOOD PEOPLE. Your college experience is only as good as the people you choose to surround yourself with make it. It’s been an incredible four years, and I can’t wait for the next two years of graduate school and beyond.