Much to my disbelief, in nine days I will be walking across the UNCW stage graduating, fist pumping and probably crying in triumph. There are multiple reasons why I thought that I would never graduate college. Most of them stemmed from my long-time battle with anxiety and depression. I bounced from school to school, and even dropped out for a little while. However, during my two years at UNCW I went from feeling powerless to powerful.
I began my college career at East Carolina University, where I had several downward spirals that lead to me leaving school for a semester right before my senior year. There were many times when I thought that I would never return to school because I simply did not believe in myself as I should have. I was fearful of others and I was fearful of my own potential. That is the worst thing about depression, it is scary and it is just there. Most of the time there is no explanation behind it which makes it feel impossible to fix.
I traveled around Europe, where most of my family is from, for a little bit after I left school in attempt to figure myself out. My life hit a turning point when I interacted with who I like to call, my airplane angel. I’m talking a real spiritual experience, ya’ll! On the plane back to the United States I sat next to a man who claimed to already know a lot about my situation and proceeded to lift me up to the point where I felt like I was on an airplane to heaven, rather than back to North Carolina. Words will never do what happened to me on that plane justice. I learned that positivity, determination and good spirit are what will drive you where ever you want to go. So, I started being positive and chose to love everything rather than be afraid of everything.
Shortly after my return I applied to UNCW, which was always a dream school for me. I was accepted, and that was one of the best days of my life. I intended on being a double major in Film Studies and Communication Studies so that I could fulfill a long-time dream of writing and working with music and movies in some way. Quickly after I started school I dropped Film Studies because I realized that everything that I needed to achieve my goal was in the Communication Studies major.
I relapsed into depression for a short time during COM 105 and found myself failing the class because I could not even make it to class. It was then that the one and only, Dr. Weber came to my rescue. He saw potential in me and encouraged me get motivated and keep moving. Thank goodness he did because now, here I am! About to graduate! I have been consistently happy and well for over a year now, and have a lot of professors and personal motivators to thank for that. I am still working through some of my fears, but I can feel myself shining in large spurts. I know that as I continue into the next chapter of my life, my spirit will only continue to shine brighter.
In addition to Dr. Weber, I am lucky to have been taught and inspired by some amazing professors, and people. Dr. Brubaker, Dr. Persuit, Professor Chin and Professor Bollinger all touched me with their passion for what they teach as well as their clear personal strength. Because of them, I am striving to be as sure of myself and as passionate about any profession I chose to pursue in my life. You all are great! My gratitude is endless.
Coming to UNCW as a Communication Studies major was the best decision that I have ever made. It was here that I learned to love myself, the people around me, and the world that I am living in. I have engaged in life-changing experiences, met many of my soul people, learned the art of the selfie, and began paving my road to success at this beautiful school. I am so thankful and so happy. I am also no longer afraid of my future.
You all probably know the famous quote, “you is kind, you is smart, you is important,” from The Help. This is the truth and it is for all of you, Seahawks! Those are three most special things that you can be, and the three things that will allow you to excel personally and professionally.
As my airplane angel said to me – you are in charge of your own destiny.
– Hannah Turner