Hello Bear Family!
As I discussed with you last month, my MSU experience had a rough beginning. Yet, as we speak today, I am eagerly awaiting the completion of my Master’s degree in Student Affairs in Higher Education in 31 days. On May 17, I will officially become a two-time Bear Grad and begin my transition to the professional world. My time here at Missouri State has been the most transformative experience of my young life so far and I will always be a proud Bear for life. However, after nearly seven years, it is time for me to look ahead towards my next great adventure and chapter of life.
Change happens so much during college. If you want a visual example, check out this article’s picture with first-year-of-college me on the left and my professional head-shot this semester on the right. This type of change due to getting older is expected, but my college experience has been full of unexpected journeys that shaped who I am today. I am so fortunate for the opportunities that Missouri State has given me to grow as a person and leader. Since I am in the height of my ongoing job search process and preparing for my first on-campus interview on April 17, I have begun to feel significantly bittersweet and uncertain for the future. My job search process has brought the fact that my days are now numbered her to the forefront of my mind. Oddly, I did not feel this as much during my first graduation in December 2016. I knew that I was not fully transitioning to the adult world because I was continuing my graduate studies here, so I have not had to face these feelings until now. My upcoming graduation is truly my first big step into the great unknown as an adult.
Although it has been difficult for me to mentally prepare for post-graduation life at times, what has greatly helped me process is reflecting on this quote: “Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened.” As I reflect on these past 7 years, I have so many fond memories from the classroom, involvement experiences, and being able to grow with my fiancée Amanda. I have realized that nearly every experience (both positive and negative) prepared me for each new step I took in life. From changing my major seven times, being widely involved on campus, serving in multiple leadership positions, and the many mistakes and failures along the way, I found my place and became the person I am. The amazing students, faculty, professionals, and community members I have met here will always have a special place in my heart. I owe my success and development to my family and this network of individuals who supported me through everything and helped me grow into a resilient and confident person. I will always have deep love and appreciation for MSU and Springfield will be a home for me no matter where I go. I hope that they will be the same for your student when they reflect during their semester before graduation.
Seven years is a long time to be in one place, especially if you have been a college student that for most of that time like me. No matter where your student is in their experience, I encourage you to help your student recognize what their successes have been so far at MSU and what has helped shape them into the person they are today. It is so easy, especially in my own life, to not give ourselves enough credit for how far we have come and what our support system and environment have invested to continually help us grow and become successful. Moreover, I encourage your student to recognize that they have a whole life ahead of them filled with new experiences and opportunities and to appreciate what they value in life, especially during these critically important formative years in college. You never know where you will go and what you can become by continuing to move forward.
I have greatly appreciated the time you have taken to read my articles these past two years. I will always cherish the talks we have had and being able to meet many of you in person. I hope that by sharing my stories and information, you have been able to help your student be even more successful as a Bear. I wish you all and your students all the best now and in the future, because we are all part of one Bear Family.
For the final time: Thanks for reading and Go Bears!