Well…this will probably be my last blog for NACC. I have two finals Thursday morning and then graduation Tuesday night. I can’t believe my time here is up. It really seems like just yesterday I graduated high school and started as a Freshman and Presidential Host at Northeast. I was so anxious and confused those first few days! I never imagined that I could come to love a school as much as I have this one. The students, the teachers, and the faculty have all been so warm and open and committed to success. I feel honored to have been a part of this experience and I hope I’ve contributed some good to this school. If you’re a high school student deciding on schools or an adult looking for a change of career, I can’t tell you how much Northeast Alabama has to offer to you. You won’t be just a number or a face in a classroom here, you’ll be an important part of the school and your individual needs will always be addressed. Seriously, come check out our campus and the programs we have to offer and tell me if you don’t fall in love (tuition here can’t be beat, either!).
If this is my last post, which I assume it will be, I’d like to take the time to talk about some things I’ve learned from NACC and from being a college student in general, and also personally thank some of the incredible staff at this school.
Don’t stress about your major. This is a point I could go on for days and days about, but I’ll try to keep it short. Deciding on a major is important, but you don’t have to know what you want to do for the rest of your life out of high school! Be willing to take some broad classes and try to find some areas you’re strong in and passionate about. That’s the number one goal of school.
Don’t let outside factors decide your major for you. Picking a major is tough enough, but I promise you, listening to other people’s opinions about a certain job field or reading those ridiculous articles about the 20 best and worst college majors will only make the process harder. I’ve definitely learned this the hard way. Money and job security are so important in this economy, but all the money and benefits and paid vacations in the world won’t matter if you aren’t doing something you care about. Recently, I decided to leave Speech Pathology and return more towards what I started with, Public Relations and Spanish. It was a big decision and one I really though about, but in the end I knew I wasn’t doing Speech Pathology for the right reasons and I wouldn’t be studying what I cared about. Is the job market and projected salaries as good for things like PR and Foreign Languages as it is for Speech Pathology? No. But I’m doing what I’m interested in doing and I know if I continue to push myself and work hard I won’t have any trouble once I get out of school. Speech Pathology is a great field to go into, and if you are interested in it, go for it! But I’ve been spending a whole lot of time stressing and trying to convince myself I was in the right major instead of just enjoying my classes. That’s what’s really important.
Don’t be afraid to talk to new people! This is such a huge one. High school is over and cliques and groups really don’t exist anymore, so don’t be shy about talking to people. I can’t tell you how many interesting people I’ve come to know just by deciding to say hey to someone in a crowded classroom. At the very least, you might find a study partner for the semester.
Get involved. Adjusting to college can be a difficult process anyway, but it’ll be 10 times worse if all you do is go to class and then back home or to your dorm. Find a club or group your interested in and start attending some meetings. You’ll be surprised at how many people are in the same situation as you, and you can make some really great friends and contacts by being involved with people that share a common interest as you. Presidential Host has really been my favorite thing about college so far. Not only have I gotten my first two years of school paid for and about to enter my third year of college with no debt, but I’ve gotten to meet and connect with people, and some of my closest friends now are Presidential Hosts, and even though many of us are going in different directions in the Fall, I know I’ll always have family at NACC. In high school, I could have never imagined that I’d be serving as President of a college’s ambassador group, but that’s exactly what I’ve done and I’ve loved every minute of it.
Learn to change. Changing and growing up and finding out the type of people we want to be is the biggest journey we’ll ever take, and college is the perfect time to do that. What ever you were or weren’t in high school is over and you have to make a place for yourself in the real world. I started college as a nervous 18 year old kid with lots of ideas but no idea how to express them. Through having to juggle classes, work, and Presidential Host, I feel like I’ve grown into a young man who knows how to handle himself academically, socially, and professionally, from time management to keeping notes and studying regularly to greeting guest to setting tables, I’ve gotten an education that far exceeds the classroom. I have Northeast to thank for that.
Don’t take anything for granted. Such an important lesson. Some things that I hated most and dreaded doing are some of the things I miss most now. As I was writing this post, I stepped outside as the sun was coming up and I realized that I would never have another early, rushed morning of trying to get to class on time at NACC. I’m sure there’ll be plenty more of these mornings to come once I transfer this Fall, but I’ll never get to throw on some clothes, grab a cup of coffee, and run into a lecture at Northeast again and this is definitely bittersweet for me. Also, a lot of the people that I’ve been so close to the last two years are transferring on to different universities in the Fall, and people that have been a daily norm for me will start to become scattered as we take different directions in our lives. This is something that has really sinking in for me, so I encourage you to enjoy whatever situation it is that you’re in right now. It may seem like it’ll last forever, but I promise it won’t.
Everyone hates finals, but don’t let them get the best of you. I’d do good to take my own advice here. Finals are a necessary evil that leave everyone, students and teachers alike, feeling drained, sleep deprived, and over-caffeinated, but just remember you’ve taken tests all year and you’ve done fine. About a week or two before finals start, sit down and make out a schedule of what day and time your finals will be and make a study plan accordingly. Space out your study sessions so you’re not pulling all-nighters the night before a big exam and just keep calm and try not to consume too much Red Bull.
There are so many other things I’ve learned in my first two years of college at NACC, but these are some huge ones that I hope can benefit some incoming freshman. With all of that being said, I want to take some time now to thank and acknowledge some specific staff members and teachers at Northeast.
Mrs. Andrea Okwu: Assistant to the President, High School Recruiter and Presidential Host Sponsor. Mrs. Okwu, there will never be enough thank you’s the Presidential Hosts can give you for all of the time and effort you put out for us. You really are the backbone of what we do, and without you I would have never gotten the opportunity to serve as an ambassador for my school. You are so dedicated to the school and such a hard worker; I know I speak for all of the Presidential Hosts when I say that you push us to work harder than we normally would. Presidential Hosts really takes kids and turns them into young adults, and not only are you providing students with a way to be involved, but you’re helping them get their college paid for. Thank you so much Mrs. Okwu!
Mrs. Susan Barron: Director of High School Relations and Event Planning and Presidential Host Sponsor. Mrs. Barron, I don’t think I’ve ever seen you without a smile on your face. You are an expert at taking kids with no knowledge of formal social setting etiquette and turning them into professional, independent young people! I have learned so much from you about how to conduct meetings, dinners, events, and even how to conduct myself in different situations. Whenever I set a table, tie a tie, or measure my sleeves, you can be certain I’ll be thinking about you! You contribute so much to the school and to the Presidential Host program and we are all so thankful for what you do. You are behind the scenes, organizing and working tirelessly at so many huge campus events. We will never be able to give you all the credit you deserve.
Dr. David Campbell: President. Dr, Campbell, you are such a huge advocate for the Presidential Hosts team and are always so quick and willing to help us out whenever we need it. You serve the school so well as President and I am so proud to have attended Northeast during your time as President. I know from what I have seen the past two years that this will go down as a time of huge growth, expansion, and publicity for Northeast Alabama Community College and we will have you to thank for it.
Mrs. Heather Rice: Director of Development. Mrs. Rice, You always offer so much time and help to the Presidential Hosts. You have so much personality and add so much to the ambassadors and to the school. I can’t tell you how much I will miss Friday mornings in your office, chatting about all the going-ons. The Presidential Hosts always look forward to working your events because we know they’ll never be boring! You’re so full of life and excitement and it is contagious whenever we work with you.
Mrs. Sherry Whitten and Mrs. Jessica Blalock. You two ladies have an excellent College and Career Department. You will never know how grateful I am that you always have so much helpful information for me. I am always impressed with how much knowledge you both have about different majors, careers, and schools. I know you both have definitely steered me in the right career direction and I am so appreciative. I know you are like this with all students, because I constantly hear how informative and helpful you are whenever students come to visit. Thank you both for your service to the school and students!
Señora Tresha McClain: Instructor of Spanish. Sra. McClain, Before I started college, I had a passion for culture but you gave me a knowledge of it. I see the excitement you have for Spanish and that makes me excited about it. I think a great teacher loves her subject and loves her students, and it’s obvious that you love both! Thank you so much for not only allowing me to be a student, but also a student worker for you. I have truly enjoyed getting to work for you and I will never forget all of your exciting stories! Gracias por todo.
These past two years at NACC have been so memorable, and even though I feel sad about leaving this school, I know it’s prepared me well for the next step. Thank you to everyone who is a part of the NACC team, it’s been a great ride.