When I was a kid growing up, I never thought my life would be the way it is now, but I wouldn’t go back in time to change a thing.
Michigan State has been my dream school ever since I was a kid. I grew up nearby, and I played sports all the time, like 12 or 13 years of baseball. My dad coached me and he would take me to so many sporting events on MSU’s campus. It was always so exciting to just be on campus and see all the stuff going on; sporting events and otherwise. Being around that as a kid, it made me want to go to Michigan State when I got older.
But I didn’t get to go straight out of high school. What happened was, fifteen years ago, I was hit by a drunk driver, and I was in a coma for a bit, with some brain damage that left me paralyzed and some learning disabilities.It takes me a little longer to do things; to figure some things out. So I lived at home for a while and went to community college for a few years to sort of ease myself into college life and to get some requirements out of the way. Even after that, it was still difficult for me to get into Michigan State. I had to make some concessions, do some things that other students didn’t have to do. There’s a Resource Center for People with Disabilities here that was really helpful in navigating some of that. They help you figure out how to work with your situation and advocate for what you need. I was able to get extra help from professors, longer test-taking times, and things of that nature.
I graduated with my bachelor’s in communications seven years ago. It was one of the proudest moments in my life. I love Michigan State. I’ve loved all my time here. Not just classes, but I also got involved with clubs. When I was an undergrad I was a part of SADD. I don’t know if it’s around anymore. It stands for Spartans Against Destructive Decisions. I was hurt by drunk driving, and so I’m a victim advocate now. But whatever you do, however you get involved, just to be on campus makes you feel as though you are a part of something big. And that community doesn’t end when you graduate. To this day I’ll still meet some of my undergrad professors for lunch. I still feel like part of that community even though I’m not living in the area any more.
Right now, I’m about to graduate with my master’s degree in macro social work—from Michigan State, of course. Grad school was definitely more of a challenge than undergrad. I was working full time while being a grad student. Both of those are full commitments, which means I didn’t have much time for myself and didn’t have much time to do the things that I actually wanted to do. Over the three years I have been in the program there have been two or three times I have thought about giving up. There were certain things I was not getting in class and I was not able to get that much contact with the professors. I am glad that I never actually took the steps to fill out paperwork to drop out because things ended up working out okay in the long run.
What really made life in the program better was having my cohort with me. We have all been together for a while so I knew that I could always come talk to them about anything and they would understand me. We all had a similar mindset and knew what we wanted to do in life so we held each other accountable in school. We already started up our own Facebook page that we all talk on, so when we all leave and go our separate ways, we will stay close and be able to link up with each other whenever we are back in town.
With graduation so close, my biggest fear in the future is not living up to the expectations I have set for myself. I hope to go into the area of policy creation and analysis. I would love to have a part in creating policy that impacts the lives of communities as a whole. I have things planned that I want to do, and at the same time, I know that there are just some things that I will not be able to do—and that is my fear.
Basically, what I am trying to say is, I’m afraid that I am not going to be able to make the kind of impact on the world that I know I am capable of. Overall, I feel like I have been through a lot from when I was younger and when I went through college, and so I hope these experiences will allow me to achieve what I want to do in life. I always have hope.
This story originally appeared in Facing College: Diverse Student Voices, a publication of The Facing Project that was organized by Michigan State University in East Lansing, Michigan.