As told to Ian Cree
Life After High school
It was my junior year of high-school when I realized that I had this uncontrollable drive to go to Ohio Northern University “(Northern).” My name is Joe Williams. From my time in high school, I knew what I wanted to do the rest of my life. My uncle had attended Northern and studied Criminal Justice and eventually became a prosecutor. Just like him, I felt I was called to become a prosecutor. I had always had a desire to become a prosecutor but I had an experience. After seeing what he did at his job daily, I realized that I did not want myself to be sitting at a desk all my life like my uncle was doing. I certainly did not want to do that, I changed my mindset and committed to myself that I will become a part of the secret-service, in the protective division. From my senior year of high-school until my junior year in college, I have slowly come to realize that all of the things I am doing now would not be possible without the unconditional love and selflessness given by my family to keep me at Northern along with my drive and discipline to become what I want to be, a member of the secret service.
Throughout senior year of high-school, I experienced many stressful times and relieving times. My most stressful process was trying to be able to afford going to Northern and receiving the scholarships essential to attend Ohio Northern University. Financially, my family could not afford to just send me away to Ohio Northern. The tuition and cost of living was not cheap. I had no other options, I had to get the scholarships. These scholarships were the last lifeline I had a grasp on in being able to attend Ohio Northern University. It was my only goal in life at the time, attend Northern to study criminal justice. When I found out I had been awarded these scholarships, the biggest weight was lifted off my back. I will be able to go to the college I want and study what I want. It was one of the best days of my life. Soon after receiving this thrilling news, another burden presented itself as life always seems to do.
The first day of my freshman year. Move-in day. I was nervous and had no idea where I was going, just that I needed to get to Park Hall. I eventually got there with the help of the resident advisors. I parked and went and got my key for my dorm. As I was doing this, people were unloading my stuff from my car and I wanted to go to my room but I could not because I had to move my car from the access road. After I got my car parked in a permanent location, I came in to my room and started unpacking. I was so excited, the next chapter of my life was about to start. I was about to endure the process of college. Although after about two or three hours of moving in and getting organized, my mom noticed that the floor was kind of wet. She went and got the RD, resident director, he came and looked at it and said yeah, that’s not supposed to be like that. He called the Physical Plant or P Plant. They came and looked at the wet floor that was continuing to become more wet. Turned out there was a glycol leak from the geothermal unit which was in the custodial closet right next door. They knew there was a leak but the thought they had it contained. P Plant had no idea it could seep under the wall into the carpet. Not knowing how long it would take to clean, they made me move rooms. All of this happened my first evening on campus. A great complication to experience my first full day being spent at Ohio Northern University.
I was nearly completed unpacking and beginning to relax when they told me I was going to have to move rooms. Needless to say, I was not very happy at this moment. So my family and I all got to experience another move-in in the same day. The rest of welcome weekend was pretty much a blur, most of the time spent meeting so many people there is no possible way to remember them. Other than the room scenario, welcome weekend went pretty well. I was optimistic and looking forward to starting classes.
Beginning class my freshman year, I was really consistent on getting up and going to class. Especially in the first couple weeks. Although I was disciplined on going to class, I really did not do well keeping up with the homework. I sort of stayed up with it but not as well as I should have been. This came from all the extra freedom of my parents not being around and breathing down my neck telling me what to do anymore.
Towards mid-terms of my first semester of my freshman year, I experienced a very rude awakening. From all of this new freedom of being able to do what I want when I want, which is nice, but I was not managing my time well. My grades were not where they needed to be, showing me I needed to manage my time better. I had barely passed my classes. I realized at this moment it was not like high school. I knew now that with this extra freedom, there was extra responsibility on me. I would actually have to work and apply myself and get done what needs to be done then go hang out and relax. I really needed to kick it back into gear to be successful in college. I have an unconditional love for this moment, it re-installed my drive and desire to begin the grind of doing well at college to live the life I desire.
During my sophomore and junior years here at Ohio Northern University, I have been an RA, resident advisor. Overall, the experience has gone well. Like with anything you do in life, some days are harder and more stressful than others. The hardest, busiest times, always seem to be during welcome weekend and once the residents return from long breaks. The one factor that really influenced me to become a resident advisor was the benefits. I get my housing paid for by the university. Becoming a RA also helped me get out of my comfort zone. I had to assume a leadership role and in the long run, it has helped me tremendously. Especially considering an important part of being and RA is rule enforcement. This will help my transition into my future occupation of law enforcement.
Also, during the end of my sophomore year and throughout my junior year, I have done internships at two places. My first being a security guard at Cedar Point Amusement Park During the summer of my sophomore year. I had to work third shift from 11:00 p.m. to 7:00 a.m. I never really had much customer experience, it was mainly with other employees. From being an RA, I did quite well, I was essentially a glorified RA a Cedar Point. My second internship was, and still is at the Sheriff’s Office. This one was much harder to get involved in than the one at Cedar Point. I spent much more time and effort trying to get involved here. I continually contacted the person I was told to at the sheriff’s office to set up my internship. I had come to find out that he was sending all of my information on to the person whom coordinates the internships and that person was never getting back with me. I spent almost two months waiting to get started on this internship all because of a simple communication error. Once I finally got in for an interview, they said as long as my background check comes back, which I knew it would because I had literally just worked at Cedar Point for a police department, I would get right in to the internship. I had just spent a lot of time and effort contacting the office trying to get started there. This internship would not have been possible without my drive and desire to begin. I am so glad I stayed disciplined on trying because hopefully after I graduate, I will hire me there.
Graduate school has always been in my future, and I have always wanted to do Law School here at Northern. One of the biggest determining factors of this decision was again, the money. As long as I can receive a decent enough scholarship, Ohio Northern should be where I stay. I like it and want to stay so I can continue be happy and not have to go through all the registration and application processes again. In the worst case scenario, and I cannot stay here at Northern, I applied to other places. Hopefully with all that I have accomplished and done from my never-ending drive to become successful, I should be able to stay here at Northern.
Family. Many of my past experiences could not have happened if I had not had the desire to attend college. One of the main reasons for my ability to go to college was my parent’s support. Both financially and emotionally, my family was there for me. I have set myself up well for my future vocation from my calling to criminal justice. I am eternally grateful for all the unconditional support from my family. From the internships at Cedar Point and the Sheriff’s Office, my family aided me throughout. Where I am today and the person I am today would not have been possible without the help of my family or my aspiration for my future. Overall, life after high school and leading to my future is going well. Yeah, there have been some bumps in the road but my family was there to help. College is about finding what you love and becoming successful in that something that matters.
This story originally appeared in Facing Our Futures Beyond High School, a publication of The Facing Project that was organized by Ohio Northern University in Ada, Ohio.