Take it all in.
Three months. Three months until I walk across the stage with several of my peers and shake the hands of the deans as I receive my diploma. Four long years of hard work, frustration (at times) and singing “Callin’ Baton Rouge” are about to end in one swift walk.
There are going to be amazing days when you feel as though all of your efforts are being noticed by those around you. The organization you stay up at night for to complete the work no one else was willing to do will recognize you as the “Unsung Hero.” The paper or presentation or midterm you prepared for well in advance will be subtly applauded by your professor because he/she knows the lightbulb finally lit.
Then there will be the days when no one notices the extra hours you sacrificed or the anxiety you endured while waiting for an exam to be administered. But it’s part of the big picture, so take it all in.
I have cheered in Death Valley until I’ve cried. I have witnessed proud traditions that other institutions couldn’t fathom. I have been asked to challenge myself in the classroom, through leadership positions, during internships and jobs. This University has given me more opportunities than I ever expected.
My advice to a freshman, sophomore or junior is to, yet again, take it all in. Work hard even when no one is watching. Challenge yourself more than the person sitting next to you. Accept opportunities that come your way, but don’t allow yourself to become nominal. Know that accolades do not accompany each pursuit, and be humble when they do.
Learn from your professors and learn from your mistakes. Ask questions because you’re inquisitive, and don’t allow the majority to silence your point of view. Question what you’ve always known to be true. Add to the marketplace of ideas. Stray away from your comfort levels.
More than anything, know that you didn’t achieve success alone. And realize that most seniors would love to be in your position again, if only for a day.
This might get sappy.
I was fortunate enought to have an epiphany in 2009 at the ripe age of 17. I had no idea who I was or what I wanted out of life. I was self-conscious, a little awkward and second guessed most things that came out of my mouth. I applied for several camps to attend–mainly leadership based–during the summer of 2009.
I was selected as an alternate for The Mississippi Governor’s School two weeks or so before the session began. I had no idea what to expect, but I knew that three weeks out of the summer before my senior year was a lot to sacrifice. Little did I know the impact those short three weeks would have on my happiness, my character and my aspirations.
Here’s a brief timeline of my MGS tenure:
- 2009 – I was selected as a scholar
- 2010 – I was selected as a Resident Assistant in Training
- 2011 – I was selected as a Resident Assistant for my very own wing of amazing ladies!
- 2012 – I was selected as the MGS intern and as a Leadership Facilitator
Through my various experiences and roles within this program, I realized a few things. Hence, my cardinal rules of MGS:
- You have to take chances…if you’re comfortable all of the time, you’re not doing life right
- There will be tears-happy ones, sad ones, angry ones, ones of self-doubt
- Summer camp will always be a romantic setting, and you will fall in love
- The people who devote a few weeks out of their life to something as special as this program are some of the greatest people on earth
- You will meet your best friends (who you WILL stay in touch with) because of this program
- Leadership is about so much more than taking personality tests and facilitating icebreakers; I learned this through experiences with people who were 4 years younger than me
- Lessons will be learned that cannot be expressed through mere words, so I won’t even attempt to do so
- Columbus, Mississippi is one of the hottest places on earth
- Laugh with everyone you can, even if you get flustered and tired
- Express exactly how you feel exactly when you feel it
Gov School granted me confidence in so many ways. I can’t express enough accolades for the program nor can I affirm the people I have met through it enough. I have met my best friends, my mentors, and built a support system because of MGS. I hope the scholars of 2013 leave with the same experience.