by Katie Yeaton
This school year flew by and I cannot believe I only have one more year in my Master’s program. UNLV has become my home in an unexpected way. I remember being so excited to travel and move to London and Las Vegas post-undergrad, but now that I look back I realize how much I have grown. It’s not the places that did this for me. Something inside of me was telling me I needed to travel and see the world; be exposed to new cultures and nations, new topics and issues. We talk about globalization and worldly issues in the classroom. We are encouraged to learn and take on new opportunities that will challenge us as an individual. But how do we know about the emotions and effects of these issues if we do not step into the world? You need to have a blend of practical and classroom learning experience. London and Vegas have not changed my values, they have allowed me and encouraged me to see more of the world and meet new people. We are all living documents without a clear-cut ending. There is not one moment I could say, “yep, I’m done with college, I’m done with class and studying” because the truth is I never will be and I never want to be. (I might have said this during thesis, but my frustration ended when I had my paper printed and bound.) Being a lifelong learner means more than attending classes and doing work. It means engaging in discussions and keeping a door open to new perspectives and information. Our world and the people are changing, slowly but surely we continue to see more social justice.
So what have I learned about myself this year? Never give up, stay honest to yourself, and continue to give back. What I hope to achieve as a higher education researcher-practitioner is to inspire folks to develop personally. Take a risk, do not follow the status quo. Everyone else might be going to college because they want a job, their parents are demanding they go, or they simply want more time to explore careers and increase their knowledge. The point is their reason to go to college may not be your reason. What is your why? Why did you decide to attend college? Why did you pursue a career in higher education? Without this perspective one could feel like they are in the woods, surrounded by trees and dim lighting, with no clear navigation. Self-exploration and being real about this “why” is a key ingredient to being successful.
In the words of Marcia Wieder, “Commitment leads to action. Action brings your dream closer.” Do not be afraid to be yourself. Reach for your goals and follow the path less traveled. Remember, “We become happier, much happier, when we realize life is an opportunity rather than an obligation” (Mary Augustine). Be passionate, be courageous, be spontaneous, and be you.
Happy Summer everyone!