At 17 years old, I had to decide where and how I wanted to spend the next four years of my life. I always knew that my parents wanted me to go to college, however this is something I truly wanted for myself as well. I’ve always enjoyed school, and I really had to think about my future at this time. In high school, I made the decision to work toward my goal of becoming a writer. When it was time to apply to college, I wanted to stay in my area, close to my family. I applied to a few different schools, but my number one choice was Queens University of Charlotte, a small private school right in the vibrant city of Charlotte in North Carolina.
I remember going back and forth on the pros and cons. I was hesitant due to the cost of this school, however it seemed like the right fit for me. It was smaller than most universities, it had the major I wanted, and I loved the area. It was also very close to home, and I felt comfortable with this. Going into it, I knew that attending Queens would be a big step for me. During campus tours and orientation and registration, I learned that there were many things that were required of Queens students. For example, each student had to complete a mock interview (which I was so nervous about) as well as two internships during their time at Queens. There was also the option of traveling abroad, which at the time I didn’t believe I would ever do (because it was just too nerve wracking to think I would be doing that without my loved ones). College is a time for people to step away from what is comfortable and to grow into the person you are meant to be. Despite my hesitations, I said yes to Queens, and it’s safe to say that I don’t regret it. I knew my future self would be proud of the decision I made.
Luckily, I had older siblings who were in/went to college before me, so I felt like I knew what to expect. Well, nothing could prepare me for the amount of work that I had to do. My freshman year was difficult to say the least. I remember crying with each new semester because of how overwhelming it felt (though once I became a junior, I did not let the stress get to me that much). It took some time, but I got used to all of the work, and although it was a lot, this is to be expected when attending college. It isn’t meant to be easy, but in the end, you feel very proud of all that you’ve accomplished.
I went into college as a journalism major, however at the end of my sophomore year, a new major was introduced: multimedia storytelling, and I felt that this was a better fit for me. I was able to take courses relating to photography, videography, journalism and writing, social media, and communication. All of this was right up my alley, and I really enjoyed many of my classes. During my first two years of college, I had a lot of general education courses to take. These weren’t always my favorite, however I understood the importance of taking them. In my last two years of college, I was able to take more courses relating to my major, which I found to be very interesting. What I love about my major is that it does not put me in a box. It has allowed me to explore different pathways within my desired field.
As I have mentioned, I was really nervous about so many of the requirements that I would eventually have to complete. At a smaller school, you are much more likely to have to participate, and I was always the quiet shy girl. I did not know if college would help me get out of my shell, but I certainly hoped it would. I also did not know just how much I would grow in my time at Queens. Through each experience, I gained more and more confidence in myself and in who I am becoming. I was a member of many group projects, which allowed me to meet new people and to learn how to work with others and to share ideas. I completed a mock interview, which taught me some helpful tips for future interviews, and it gave me more experience and practice. I completed two internships relating to my field, which gave me the experience I needed as well as some important lessons in relation to the workplace. I also did something that as a freshman, I never saw myself doing, and that was traveling abroad with my school. While I have done quite a bit of traveling abroad with my family, I had never done it alone or with people I did not really know. Well, when I was given the opportunity to go on my dream trip to France in March of 2020, I could not refuse. While I was a bit sad that I could not experience this trip with my family, they were supportive and very happy for me. Why on earth would I pass up this opportunity? I had such an amazing week in France (a group of us went to Paris and Lyon)! I will never forget the experience! It allowed me to gain more independence and confidence. Somehow, even miles away from home, I felt so comfortable walking the streets of Paris, and although I was not alone, I still had to take care of myself while I was away. This made me realize just how ready I was to get out of my comfort zone and to take some time to do something for myself without depending on others too much. I had many responsibilities, and I am proud of myself for taking such a big step; one that I never imagined I would take in my time at college.
There were many moments when I surprised myself during these past four years. I was able to find the courage to speak up at events such as the scholars luncheon, and I finally began to feel brave enough to speak up in my classes toward the end of my junior year. I found that a lot of my anxiety went out the window and was replaced with confidence in my own knowledge and experience. Being around the right people really helped as well. One of the many things I loved about college was just how accepting and kind everyone seemed to be. This was pretty different coming right out of high school, where this was not always the case. I loved that people were more mature and I think it’s because everyone is in the same boat. Everyone is experiencing similar things at similar times, like being away from family and being out on your own. While I have gotten much better with my social skills, I still would like to work on this some more, and I am hoping to get better at public speaking as well.
The COVID-19 pandemic began during my second semester of my junior year, right when I got back from France. Since then I have been learning virtually. I’m not going to lie, I have been a little upset that my final year of school had to take place on zoom, but I am glad that Charlotte has become a bit safer, and that I am able to have my graduation ceremony in person.
As my time at Queens comes to a close, I truly do feel like a completely different person walking out than I did when I first stepped onto campus. I was 18 years old when I took my first class at Queens, and now I will be gradating in two days at 21 years old. On Saturday May 8th, I will receive a Bachelor of Arts in Multimedia Storytelling. I am so proud of the work that I’ve done at Queens, and I cannot believe how fast these past 4 years have gone by. I remember my first day as a freshman, and now I am a graduating senior. While I am a little nervous about the future and where I will go after graduation, I believe in myself and the skills and lessons that I have learned at Queens, and for that I am grateful.
I wanted to end today’s blog post with a thank you to Queens University of Charlotte. I truly believe that this school has made me a better person overall. I feel that everything I’ve done and everything I’ve learned has helped shape me into the woman I have always dreamed of becoming. My growth does not end here. Life does not end here. While I may not be learning in a classroom anymore, I will be learning for the rest of my life; through any and all of my future experiences and endeavors. I look forward to the many life lessons ahead of me. Thank you Queens, for all that you’ve brought to my life. I feel prepared to step into the real world with confidence, bravery, and of course, my education.
And to my 17 year old self, you were right. Thank you for being brave, and for making a choice that scared you. It was worth it, and I am so proud of you.