While I was a student at Augusta University, I wore a lot of different hats. I strived to be an extracurricular superstar because academically, I was an average student if I’ve being completely transparent. I felt in order to compensate my mediocre grades, I needed to have my resume stacked with awesome opportunities to showcase how committed I was to my university. I also enjoyed being involved on campus as that contributed to a majority of my personal and professional development in the past few years. Although I did graduate with an impressive resume filled with extracurriculars, I can admit that some of the opportunities I so badly desired, I did not get.
I started freshman year with the sole intention of being just a student. I was pretty burnt out from being an academic overachiever in high school so I really wanted to focus on something different. As arrogant as it sounds, I knew I was intelligent and I didn’t want to be known as someone who was only smart like I was in high school. This was probably my biggest regret about my college experience. I should’ve continued to excel academically. I wasn’t exactly sure of what I wanted my college experience to look like in the beginning, but I felt no pressure to immediately figure that out. My first year was eventful, to say the least, however, it wasn’t very fulfilling because I didn’t do anything to stand out. Towards the end of the year, I knew I needed to do something different. So I stepped out of my comfort zone and applied to be a part of our campus activities board. I was encouraged to apply from a friend. I really wasn’t expecting to actually get asked to come in for an interview. I had a lot of mixed emotions. I didn’t have much event planning experience nor was I well versed on being on a team. Surprisingly, I was asked to join and serve on a committee where I planned a major event each semester.
My year on the board was jam-packed. There were so many high expectations given to us from our advisers. They let us know in the beginning how much a commitment this would be. I welcomed the challenge of balancing my classes along with this organization because I knew that it pays off in the end. I learned so many things about planning my first event. One lesson was how to manage relationships with my peers. We were a rowdy group. Most of us on the board had strong personalities and very outspoken. Naturally, I have a very reserved personality. That’s truer for when I’m getting to know new people. It was a challenge for me for I managed to continue to get rid of my comfort zone to connect with other members of the team. From all the exhaustion my first year brought me, I felt I was pretty successful as an event planner. I was even nominated as "member of the year." I applied to take on an executive level position for the upcoming year. It seemed like the right step to take because I wanted to help others grow since my first year was very transformative. As much as I looked forward to making our organization grow, that next year taught me many lessons I never anticipated.
I was chosen to serve my second year on the board. I felt very prepared and was excited to work with the others on the executive board. We started working over the summer. Our president at the time was studying abroad so the others and I worked diligently in her absence to make our ideas for the upcoming year a success. We were blindsided our advisers announced they were both leaving and they didn’t have a timeframe of when we would get ones. While we were technically “adviser-less” we took on more leadership we felt the board needed. It was kind of a cool to have such influence. I really felt that as a student our opinions were valued. I knew this experience would go on top of my resume. When we eventually got our new advisers later in the fall, they didn’t seem too thrilled about us having the influence we had on board. Their previous work experiences didn’t perfectly align with our ideas that we worked all summer on. There were a lot of growing pains. There were miscommunication, misunderstandings and an overall mistrust from both the board and advisers. This transition of having new advisers turned out to be more difficult than I imagined. I did my best to manage all of the growing pains that year. For my senior year, I thought I should apply to be the president. I thought this made sense considering how I committed two years of my college experience to the board and how much I was encouraged to apply by my peers. I was very hesitant because of how rocky this second year was for me. Even after my interview, I didn’t feel very confident but I remained optimistic.
As anxious as I was to find out if I was selected to be president, I told myself to continue on with my day. When I went to bed, I was so restless because I could not get off my mind. When I got the email a few hours into the night, I was completely devastated. Even though I was aware that I may not be chosen, it still hurt pretty badly. Part of me was embarrassed because some were expecting me to be president. Another part of me was relieved that I no longer had to deal with the high commitment that being a part of that organization brought me. The next morning, I woke up the worst stomach pain I ever experienced in my life. I wasn’t sure if it solely from the rollercoaster of emotions I’ve been on or if it was something else, but I was physically sick. I literally stayed in bed, in pain for the entire day. I hardly checked my phone. This felt like I was grieving. In hindsight, I was. I felt I was being pushed out of the organization that I cared about so much. I really thought I needed to the president because I wanted that to stand out the most when I reflected on my college career. I completely overlooked how not getting that position turned out to be nothing short of a blessing. Also, at the time, I didn’t want to think of any silver linings.
After I accepted that I would no longer be a part of the activities board, a much larger opportunity presented itself. I was asked and decided to run to be the student body president. I had a small role with student government previously but I originally didn’t think I was the best fit for the role. I talked about the idea to some of my friends and that encouraged me to go for it. When I officially announced to the school that I was running, I was overwhelmed by the support of my peers. So many people volunteered to help my campaign. I told myself even if I didn’t win, I was satisfied to know how many students on campus supported me.
When I got the phone call that I was elected, I was in disbelief. I was literally in line at Dollar General minding my business and that quick phone call changed everything. My experience as president allowed me to travel, network and pursue things far beyond AU’s campus. Of course, I dealt with many challenges as that organization was far from perfect, but I can truly admit that if I never took that leap of faith, I wouldn’t be where I am today. As much as it hurt me to not get the presidency I originally wanted, this presidency helped me in so many other ways. I was able to devote more time to other projects I was passionate about. I also had more time to focus on being a student. During my first semester as president, I was able to finish the semester with all A’s and B’s! That was my first (and only) time I was able to make that happen. Towards the end of the year, the organization was much better than how it started. We made real changes that benefited the entire student body. There are several things that I would’ve done differently looking back, but overall the experience was unmatched. As I applied to jobs, the first thing my current employers noticed is that I was the student body president.
So if you’re feeling down because you didn’t get that job, couldn’t make a certain relationship work or something else in your life just doesn’t seem right, just know that it’s okay. You are most likely on the cusp of a brand new opportunity. It could be like mine as it was something that I didn’t plan for or you can continue to work hard and make it happen. I’m a strong believer in the butterfly effect. That when one small change happens and it creates change on a much larger scale. The belief is that a butterfly can flap its wings in the right spot and cause a typhoon. Not getting that opportunity felt like it was the end of my world. However, I was able to find an opportunity with a much larger impact from not wallowing in defeat for too long. It’s not the end of the world although it may sometimes feel like it. I can attest that as long as you keep going, you’ll be alright.
What was the best thing that never happened to you?