|Photo: Chris White|
Thursday will bring a host of changes for me as I'll officially be a graduate of N.C. State! It's exciting, yet, nerve-wracking at the same time. I always knew the next step for me after finishing elementary, middle and high school. There has always been a plan in place. Now that I'm graduating college, I'm not exactly sure what the next step is. There's no real plan set in stone.
This time last year, I thought I had a plan in place. I decided to try my hand at grad school. I thought it would help me narrow down what I want to do. But, after a nice lecture about it in one of my classes this semester, I decided that grad school may not be the best idea for me. I didn't realize that grad school is basically for people who do know what exactly they want to do.
My problem is not that I can't find a place to fit in somewhere, my problem is I have too many likes and interests. I guess that's a good problem to have. Over the past several years, my mind has gone back-and-forth - and back again - between going into the sports, parks and recreation, journalism and even music fields. I'm a sport management major with a minor in journalism. I interned at Duke Homestead State Historic Site this past summer, which falls under the parks and rec field. I'm also passionate about music and play clarinet in a local orchestra. One great thing about my degree, however, is there are so many different avenues I can take with it. Anything from a sports executive, to media and even something within parks and rec. The possibilities are endless, which is a big plus.
Through the past four and a half years at N.C. State, there have been many changes for me personally. When I first stepped onto campus, I had nine good friends from high school joining me. A couple more the year after. We, generally, kept in contact the first year or so. Now, not so much. The only way I "keep in contact" with those friends now is through Facebook but even that is a stretch. Heck, I didn't even know one of my friends got married until I saw a post on Facebook. I know this kind of thing happens but it's saddening to experience it.
On the bright side, I've met some great people and formed some great relationships while in college. Particularly with people who majored in sport management like I did. Several of whom I've stayed in contact with - including a fellow Durham guy who's become a great friend. I'm very thankful for that.
While at N.C. State, I've had some amazing opportunities come my way. One component of my major that really helped me develop as a young professional is volunteering. Now, I've always loved to volunteer anyway but I had some different opportunities in college. The most substantial of these being Senior Games State Finals. If you don't do anything else in the fall, this is a must whether you volunteer or just attend as a spectator. These games allow for people age 55+ to compete in Olympic-style competition, from table tennis to the traditional track and field and even the performing arts. This experience was truly amazing.
I've also had the opportunity to see and/or meet several prominent figures. In 2011, I was able to see Pres. Obama in person at Reynolds Coliseum (pictured left). This was the first U.S. President I've ever seen in person and I'll never forget it. I also was able to attend a lecture by Chris Hughes, one of the founders of Facebook. It was really insightful and inspiring to listen to this guy speak. Hughes' lecture was right in my wheelhouse, talking about media and the need to particularly invest in media forms that are considered "old and outdated" today. For example, he now heads up The New Republic which is a historical publication. I also learned that Hughes was not really a fan of The Social Network, a film chronicling the creation of Facebook, saying it "romanticized" what he and his friends did at Harvard to create the social media giant.
I could sit here and write a novel about all my experiences at N.C. State. Although it was a lot of hard work and dedication, I feel my time in college has been rewarding. There have been numerous experiences and opportunities I've had in college that I'll forever be grateful for.