Ok, so I actually CAN’T believe I’m graduating in like 2 months. It seems like just yesterday that I showed up at Brescia, an excited, nervous, confused first year student with no idea where her life was going.
Boy, have things changed over four years. Now, I’m an excited, nervous, confused fourth year student with no idea where her life is going! (Well, at least I know I got into grad school!)
Kidding aside, the last four years have been incredible, challenging, frustrating, encouraging, amusing, upsetting, empowering, ridiculous, tiring, eye-opening, inspiring, and most of all, fast-paced. There have been a lot of highs and lows, ups and downs, changes, realizations, and opportunities. I have met many amazing people, a few of whom I really hope I will remain close with for a long time to come. I have had a variety of new, difficult, and interesting experiences. I know that I have grown and changed a lot as a person– so much that I think even I can’t appreciate how much I’ve changed in the last four years.
As my time at Brescia comes to a close and I start looking at the future, I’m realizing just how many amazing things I have learned while I’ve been here, and I’d like to share some of them with you.
Here is number 1:
1. There are many doors of opportunity, but YOU are the one who has to stop and knock!
One of the things that I’ve found to be so great about Brescia is that the people here truly want you to succeed, and are dedicated to creating a school where women are encouraged to pursue their dreams and interests. When I first got to Brescia, I was amazed at just how many leadership opportunities there were for students: on Students’ Council, in Residence, on councils, committees, and in clubs, in programs like the Leadership Certificate, through internships and volunteer placements, and more. It seemed like people at Brescia were doing their best to provide opportunities for students to explore things they were interested in and to develop skills, knowledge, and experience in many different areas.
However, it is easy to believe that it’s the university’s job to prepare you for your future career and give you all the tools you need to get there. While it is true that Brescia provides many doors of opportunity, I quickly learned that no one was going to open them for me. I actually had to get out there and make it happen myself!
I remember being a student in first year- I was just getting settled into Brescia and I wanted to try something new. I have no idea what I was thinking, but I did something REALLY radical: I knocked on the Principal’s door and sat down in her office to talk about how I could get involved.
I don’t want you to think that talking to the Principal is something only a really confident person could do. Trust me, I was nervous. But she was really welcoming, and I knew that she could help me reach my goals. (She did, actually! Not too long after, she appointed me student representative on the founding committee for the brand new Institute for Women in Leadership, which was a really cool experience. In fact, now that I think of it, my work on that committee was what lead me to get to introduce Severn Cullis-Suzuki, the inspiring activist daughter of David Suzuki.)
Taking risks and being willing to “knock” has opened many doors for me. Another example was signing up for Leadership Certificate. Through that, I got to meet some great mentors who worked in Student Services. After a couple months, one of these mentors, Michelle Griffore-Kempe, told me that Brescia was thinking of starting a camp program. Would I be interested in coming to sit on a committee for the program?
This was another situation where I was a little scared! I was just a first year student, and even though I loved kids and thought I had some great ideas for working with them, I had never really been part of an organizing committee for a camp before.
Even though I was uncertain, I said yes. Once again, this little decision changed my life in a big way: not long after, they asked me to be the coordinator of the camp program. Three years later, Girls LEAD Camp is a big success- it is even going to Barbados this summer!
These are just a couple examples of times that I decided to make an effort to “knock”! Not only has this given me great experiences and built up my confidence (and my resume!), it has also helped me to find things that were a perfect fit with my own goals and interests. But, looking back, I realize that while there were many doors at Brescia, I was the one who chose to enter them instead of just walking by.