As I pulled away from my house for my first semester of college four years ago, a crowd of my closest family and friends covered my front lawn to cheer me goodbye as I pulled off to begin a four-year journey. Originally hailing from the city of brotherly love, I am a Philly boy born and bred, shipped off alone to the land of barbecue, ranch, and sweet tea. I was heading for Wilmington, North Carolina. Many people would fear this situation; but I truly could not wait to embrace it. Here, I am a new person. No one would know the things that I have done, what mistakes I have made, the stories I have told, or the love and friendship that I had spread. This was my opportunity to make whatever I wanted out of myself. That is just what I did.
I had an amazing time freshman year! I dipped my toes into a handful of different courses to see which classes I liked and, ultimately, I had to choose which major I should dedicate myself to. It took me until my sophomore year to bloom academically. I can recall to this day the class that finally made me realize, “hey, maybe you can learn some cool things in school.” As I sat in the back of Dr. Weber’s Com 105 class and tried to blend in, the fire and passion behind his lectures truly drew me in. I was drawn not only to the academic world, but also to the phenomena of communication. As the semester progressed I found myself moving up in the class. I began participating, asking questions, and for the first time, I was genuinely interested in the subject I was being lectured on.
One of the biggest challenges I encountered when dealing with school was directly applying what I had been taught in class to real life situations. In communication studies, not only could I apply what I was learning to everyday life, but I was also enjoying it! TV commercials no longer bothered me; they fascinated me! Whether it was with my parents, friends, professors, or a complete stranger, every encounter was an opportunity to apply what I had been learning in all of my communication courses. Through my nonverbal learning experiences in London and Spain all the way to working as an account executive in Dr. Persuit’s advertising class, I felt connected with my major. Furthermore, working in two internships with two separate firms in different aspects of the marketing field, I was easily able to apply what I had learned and was truly able to feel the reward of all my hard work.
With that being said, I also feel as though only about half of my knowledge could be attributed to school related experiences. To recieve a Bachelor’s Degree, students must acquire a set amount of credits and pass them accordingly. All of that is all well and good, but I could not even begin to explain the amount that I have learned from living life on my own for the past few years. The friends that I have made, the connections that I have found, the professors who taught me all have contributed in some way to the of shaping my knowledge. Of course, I will miss each and every one of them and UNCW will always have a piece of my heart.
The feeling in my mind and heart over the past few weeks has been almost indescribable. The pure joy and excitement of knowing that for the past 17 years, I have been working to finally achieve this academic accomplishment of graduating from college with a Bachelor’s Degree. This feeling of completion accompanying my immense amount of nerves about the job world as well as the disappointment that the gravy train is finally over, have all combined to be the most bittersweet feelings of my life. As I look back on my life, I realized that every step of my life has been leading me to the next big thing and now, the steps are over. I am here. I cannot believe all of the opportunities that I have been presented with here at UNCW. The people I have met, the love and friendship I have felt, and the feeling that I have finally made a home for myself is as great of an accomplishment to me as graduating. Whoever said that we were not in the real world must be crazy. I have made lifelong friends here that will stand by my side through the high highs and the low lows. That being said, I plan to start my new journey the same way I started my last one. As 80’s rock star Whitesnake would say; “Here I go again on my own”.