As I am participating in the Dressember challenge-wearing a dress every day in December to fight the injustice of human trafficking-I threw on my cozy and bright hooded sweatshirt representing my Alma Mater, and it made me reminisce on my time at UW-Green Bay.
Some people attend college knowing what they want to study. Some thrive through college with flying colors. Some people graduate, land their dream job, pursue their purpose in life, and live happily ever after.
This was not my story.
My brother went to college at UW-Green Bay and I remember packing our van full as we made the three hour drive to drop him off for his first fall semester. I was in seventh grade. One step onto the sidewalk and a wide view of the many trees gifting us with a gentle breeze, and I too knew this was where I one day wanted to go to school.
I started college desiring to study Environmental Science. I was enthusiastic towards the green movement in high school and wanted to pursue the ongoing efforts of caring for our earth. But like your average student, I changed my major many times. One being an Individual Studies in Women's Health, I saw the need for women's health education and awareness-especially in developing areas.
As fate would have it, I had a hard time obtaining the classes and approval for an Individual major, but the time was approaching where I had to get serious about my college direction if I ever wanted to graduate. After meeting with my adviser and looking over my collection of courses, and observing the classed I loved and excelled in, I realized I already had a major in motion.
Social Change and Development. Say what? It focuses on social processions and social problems while addressing the problem of why and how societies and cultures around the world change and whether those changes promote justice, equity, democracy, and development of human potential.
Like many other wonderful people, my dream in life was to make a difference.
This was my start. I loved my classes, and all the ways I was challenged and stretched. The professors were passionate, supportive, and invested. They wanted to help us become our full potential so we could make our mark.
It seems like yesterday I was I preparing my cap and gown, completing my last finals, and picking up my best friend who flew in from California to witness this chapter close. As my name was called, I threw up a peace sign and proudly walked across the stage to receive my diploma. Four and a half years went by too quickly!
My college experience went beyond a degree and the perfect job. Here's three things:
Make change. When I first graduated, like many other college graduates, I had a hard time finding a job in my field. I accepted a job at a local production facility, and worked there for two years. I was grateful I was employed, but it wasn't what I loved, I wasn't being challenged, and I struggled with not feeling like a failure. I quickly fell in a rut and routine, and forgot that if I wanted something else I had to be the one to go out and get it. Like many social movements in history, change doesn't just happen without people creating it. You can't always wait for opportunity to knock on your door, you sometimes have to be the one to knock on opportunity's door!
So I knocked.
Be Creative. One of the doors that opened was turning my photography hobby into a business. My husband and I wanted to live a life debt free and knew we had to be diligent at our student loans to achieve this lifestyle sooner than later. Since my production job was a limited income, I needed to get creative to help us reach this goal we shared. I started studying photography, memorizing my camera's manual and learning how everything worked, reading blogs of successful photography businesses, and taking every opportunity I could to expand my experience and build up credibility. My oh my, it has been a wonderful journey! And I think I owe it to the way my studies helped me see the world and the people that live in it. I love the stories that my photography captures, the honest moments it holds forever-never too far away to retell to any eyes that are willing to listen. I have dreams. Dreams to travel to the ends of the earth with my camera in hand and help tell the stories of the people who might not have the voice to do so themselves.
Keep Moving. I believe anything can be possible through hard work, a little thinking outside of the box, and an attitude that won't take no for answer. Think of how different our world would be if world shakers gave up. What if Susan B. Anthony or Martin Luther King Jr. took no for an answer and left it at that? How different our wold be. We must keep moving, even when times seem trying. There is a purpose far worth it.