Receive and Take Advantage Of What Has Been Given To You.

With only three weeks left in our time in DC, it’s important to reflect on what has been going well, what needs fixing and what is left in our bucket list. This was actually an activity our Professor, Drew Stelljes, prepared for us during our last in-person class. I found it enlightening because I realized just how intentional these last months have been. 

Taking advantage of time is one of the most significant victories: working partly in the office and partly remote granted me the opportunity to pursue various projects in different areas of the city. I am tutoring, completing my summer class assignments, advising the incoming freshman as a Peer Advisor, networking and building partnerships for my internship, building a faith community and creating a home in DC. Though the end of the summer is quickly approaching, it is exactly the moment when you can see the efforts made, from even back in the spring, starting to flourish.

This reminds me that what’s worth it, takes time, patience and resilience. 

This program is such a gem since it sets so many opportunities right in front of you; as someone who had not done an internship before or had any connections, being led by the hand to these treasures meant exclusively for us students was incredible. Yet, the reality is that while the DC center and our professors worked hard to get us to this point, it is still up to us students to take full advantage of them. For instance, networking is the greatest asset of this program that called my attention; however, I had no clue on how to go about it. The DC center connected us with Michale Steelman for a step-by-step lesson on how to use LinkedIn, they made us our own business cards, organized alumni networking receptions, and paired us with mentors… I mean talk about support.

Using these as practice, I pushed myself to send emails inviting alumni out to coffee to chat about their career paths and experiences. I quickly found out how much they wanted to help, and they then connected me to other people they knew or worked with that could help me figure out how to match my interests with a career path. LinkedIn no longer terrified me, I felt comfortable to go up and chat with Board members at my internship, and felt more comfortable not knowing everything and asking for guidance. This is not to say that I am an expert now (clearly there is a lot left to learn), but to highlight that there are people who are passionate about helping students build their own path and that they will not only mention the resources out there, but will personally connect you with them. 

Overall, what I feel most deeply is pride in my growth and how grateful I am for my school and to be here. I had a unique chance to contemplate this during the 4th of July.  I am originally from Mexico and eight years ago I moved to the United States to Ohio. Growing up in a good family, learning English in international schools and traveling, I certainly did not have as hard a journey as a lot of other immigrants. Nonetheless, the journey has still been a complex and at times painful one. Thanks to the efforts of friends and family, I found myself celebrating my first 4th of July as an American citizen in Washington D.C. of all places. Like I said I have felt pride and gratitude deeply because my accomplishments are due to the immense sacrifice of so many, and recognizing that I have taken the initiative to embrace them is the greatest victory of this summer so far. 

So while in the business of the everyday, don’t forget to take a step back and appreciate how far you have come, and those that have been there every step of the way. Do not be discouraged because what’s worth it takes time, patience and resilience. 

Categories: Academics, Community Engagement & Service, Diversity, Student Blogs, Study Away, W&M in Washington
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