September 16, 2014

Four years and a degree later...

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I don’t claim to know everything about the meaning of life and I probably never will. However, after four years of college, I have learned a few things besides how to pull an all-nighter or do a semester-long project the night before it is due.

I’ve learned that every year I get older, the faster time passes, or at least that’s how it feels. I have also learned that worrying about things that are out of my control is pointless. I haven’t figured out how to stop worrying yet, but at least I know I shouldn’t worry so much.

The biggest lesson I have learned in college is to appreciate every experience in the journey, even when you would rather skip to the end.

Other than the last four years, I have lived near West Branch on a small family farm with my three older siblings and my parents, but Ogemaw County has always been my home. Throughout my youth, I participated in numerous sports, 4-H clubs and FFA. FFA really impacted my life because it was one of the main reasons I chose my field of study at MSU. After four years of hard work, I graduated two weeks ago from Michigan State University with a Bachelor of Science in environmental studies and agriscience with a concentration in communication.

I started my college journey planning to attend MSU to major in psychology. Looking back, I don’t know that this would have been the best path for me to take. During my senior year at Ogemaw Heights High School, I had the honor of being elected as a Michigan FFA state officer. This allowed me to spend my freshman year of college traveling around the state of Michigan to teach high school students about the significance and potential of agriculture in the state. During that year of service I discovered my passion for agriculture and communicating with people. Shortly after, I changed my major. I began contemplating a career dedicated to communications, specifically one that highlighted the role of the agriculture, food and natural resources industry.

College became a whirlwind of homework assignments, late nights finishing papers and studying for exams. Before I knew it, I had completed my first year of higher education and my role as a state officer was accomplished. The remaining semesters flew by, and I found that I was thinking too much about graduating and not enough about experiencing the journey leading to my end goal.

By the time I started to appreciate the Michigan State campus and really enjoy my college life, my time there was coming to an end. I spent the first three years of college just hoping to survive, manage all my classes and find employment after graduation. I forgot to look around and think about my life in the present. I was so concerned about the future that I didn’t take time to relish my life as a student.

However, over this past year I did start to reminisce about my experiences at MSU. Around Christmastime, I decided to make a list of all the things I wanted to do before I left campus life. It turns out that I should have drafted a list when I started school, because it was overwhelmingly longer than anything I could accomplish in just one semester. I started out by going to my favorite restaurants one more time and visiting my favorite sites around campus. At each stop, I thought “This is probably the last time I will be here.”

I did not cross off everything on my list, but I am glad I made the most out of my last semester at MSU. Now I can move forward in the next stage of my life.

For 16 years of my life, my primary goal was to finish school. Now what? All I know is how to be a student. I have to figure out how to live in the real world with a full-time job and think about paying back the student loans that have been piling up for the last four years. I’ve finished school and started a new job, but what’s next in life? I guess for now, I’ll just try to relax and take in the scenery.

And unfortunately, something college did not teach me: how to be awake during normal business hours. I’m learning that one the hard way.

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