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Learning how to be a person, courtesy of my college experience

Nearly a year ago now, I published a post reflecting on my time at IUPUI in anticipation of my final year of undergrad. Now that I’ve completed my degree, I figured it was time to provide an update.

There were a myriad of good times and positive learning experiences throughout the last four years. There were also a lot of struggles, hard times and crying sessions. Both the first and last semesters of my college career were the most difficult periods of my life I can recall.

In the fall of 2015, I struggled to cope with the newfound distance between myself and my family. I was just beginning to understand the depth of my mental health issues. I was learning how to pay bills, how to manage a budget, balance work with college-level classes and care for an apartment. On top of moving out of my parents’ homes for the first time, I moved in with my significant other, so I wasn’t only learning how to be an adult but an adult in a long-term relationship. In those first few months of undergrad, I shared a frustratingly tiny studio with my now fiancee. The lack of square footage forced me to become uncomfortably aware of my own flaws, in a way I’d never had to before.

It was tough.

This past semester, I began my first-ever full-time, salaried job. I took a full course load and was also the interim president of a student organization that was struggling to engage IUPUI’s campus of low-energy, commuter students. To accept my position at Hirons, I had to step down from my role in the Social Justice Scholars program, removing myself from one of the few places on campus where I had found a sense of community. When you add that much stress to a person who already has mental health issues, the outcome is generally not great.

I say all of this, not to garner pity or to sound negative. I say it because, well, I made it anyway.

On May 11, 2019 I graduated from IUPUI with a Bachelor of Arts in journalism, a concentration in public relations and a minor in advertising. I did so with honors, with highest distinction from the School of Liberal Arts and a 3.95 GPA.

And, the cherry on top, I have already secured a full time job. (I might have mentioned that on this website once or twice, by now.)

The experiences I have had as a result of enrolling at IUPUI and moving to Indianapolis have forever changed me, and not just in a floaty, “college was fun” kind of way. My classes taught me how to work closely with authority figures and the intricate nuances of group projects, two skills I now utilize every day at work. My internships taught me how to write and edit all types of copy, how to prioritize a lengthy to-do list, how to manage budgets effectively, and how to speak up while in meetings with very intimidating people. I have become more aware of social issues, of politics and of the importance of using my voice to help others.

Perhaps the most critical, I have learned to ask, “How do I do this?” rather than, “Can you do this for me?”

Having spent the last four years at IUPUI, I have begun to learn how to be this weird thing called an ‘adult’ and I am eternally grateful for every portion of that journey. A journey which doesn’t stop on Saturday, of course. I know that I have been and will continue to grow and learn in other environments.

For right now, I wanted to acknowledge all the things I’ve accomplished in the last four years and to tell the rest of the Class of 2019 – you did it. Revel in that for a minute.

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