I vividly remember sitting in my high school auditorium when I was a junior and listening to several administrators describe the opportunities my future and the future of my classmates had waiting for us IF we attended college.
At that moment, I do not quite remember if the auditorium truly fell silent or if my brain just shut down and decided to drown out all sound, but I do remember obsessing about the fact that my future could be an IF.
College was never a question in my mind, and naively, I assumed most of my peers felt the same way. Furthering my education was always an expectation and a requirement that was instilled in me since birth and to be told by an administrator that college is not such a common path was shocking to me.
I can recall our vice principal rambling off statistics that seemed disturbing to me at the time but have proven to be true as I have gotten older.
“Look around you,” he said. “A good amount of the students sitting next to you will not make it through high school. Even those that do graduate high school, maybe half of them will pursue college, and maybe one fourth of you will actually graduate college.”
These statistics have swam in my head for five years as I have completed each semester of college without so much more as a summer break in between.
Although I have always remembered how disbelieving I felt the day our vice principal firmly recounted statistics of graduation rates, I never doubted myself.
I knew I would be in the percentage of students who graduate college and pursue personal success, and here I am.
Unfortunately, our vice principal was right. Not all of my classmates graduated from high school and even less have completed a college education.
I have grown to understand that college is not for everyone, and I also know many people who are successful despite not pursuing a higher education. Personally, college was a worthwhile experience for me, especially at IU Southeast.
I am proud to say I filled out my graduation application last week and completed the required online survey that inquired about the experiences I have encountered while attending IU Southeast — both good and bad.
Without hesitation, I knew that by far the greatest component to my education and overall wellbeing has been The Horizon. The Horizon has played a significant role in my growth as a communicator, writer, editor, designer and friend.
Journalism students are extremely fortunate to have the opportunity to receive hands-on learning that can be easily applied in any career.
Since high school, I had the desire to be a journalist. I have always been very interested in learning about other people, and I thought journalism was the perfect career path.
As I continued my college journey of tedious but mostly beneficial general education requirements and insightful — and tremendously fun — journalism classes, I began to question my path.
As some of my journalism peers began searching for internships, I was slapped with reality. I did not possess a fiery passion for journalism like they did. I could not fathom what I wanted to do as a profession in journalism.
Luckily, a year and a half ago, I was browsing for a job on IUS Career Services’ website and found a job opening at the Sheraton Louisville Riverside Hotel in Jeffersonville. This was another significant connection IU Southeast provided me.
I never expected to fall completely in love with a career path, especially one that involved being hospitable to strangers constantly, but I definitely did. If I had not utilized the resources IU Southeast provided me or the skills The Horizon taught me, I may have been out of luck.
Every day I have worked for the Sheraton, I have continued to feel so incredibly grateful to have such a terrific job. I feel blessed that the Sheraton gave me the opportunity to move up into a spectacular position after just 17 months, and I could not be happier.
Finally, I have a fiery passion, and it has continued to burn for almost two years.
Even though my passion is not in journalism, I know pursuing this degree was totally worth it in the end, as it not only taught me how to be a great writer and listener, but it taught me how to connect with people.
I believe everyone should strive to be the best they can be — with or without a college degree — and if college has taught me anything, it is that everyone has different priorities, expectations and standards for themselves.
I am blessed to have fantastic friends, family, professors and co-workers, all of which have their own sets of goals and ideas of personal success.
They bring vibrancy to my life, and I am so thankful for their support and love as I have completed my quest through college.
Steve Jobs once said, “Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle.”
I suggest everyone should follow Jobs’ advice and choose a career that makes them happy — especially one that brings out fiery passion.
I was determined not to be discouraged by my old vice principal’s statistical graduation rates. I did not give up when working full time and going to school full time became strenuous. I never want to settle for less than I aspire to.
Never neglect opportunities to expand your “horizons” because you will never know what you have missed out on.
By COURTNEY MCKINLEY