A Senior’s Parting Advice

Well folks, graduation is less than two weeks away now and this is my last blog post for you all. I’m off to be a real adult, which will definitely be a series of lessons learned by trial and error. In this last blog post, I want to share some advice that you can apply to your college experience wherever you end up; these are things I’ve learned along the way that would have been really nice to know four years ago!

BUT FIRST- before we get to all of the sentimental writing, I want to share my plans for after graduation with you! If you recall, I’m graduating with a degree in Public Health, so I’ve been looking for opportunities surrounding health policy research and community health promotion initiatives. These may be smaller scale (program planning within a local non-profit) or larger scale (working for a big hospital or health system to improve access and health knowledge). Finding a job that is the right fit for you is a process that takes time, and I’m still figuring it out! I have applications sent, I’m interviewing with different organizations, and taking my time in the process to make sure that I pick a job that is perfect for me. In the meantime, however, I’m going to Thailand to have an internship collecting elephant conservation data! It’s an experience funded by the internship office at Furman through the Freeman Fellowship, internship funding designed for students to take opportunities in Southeast Asia. So, before starting my public health career, I’m having one last adventure in the Chiang Mai region of Thailand. Great things to come!!

Here’s a Furman grad (class of 2017) participating in a similar program in Bangkok, Thailand through the Freeman Foundation!

Okay, so back to the advice. I’m consolidating all of my college wisdom (hehe) into 4 points:

1: Spend time doing things you WANT to do, with people you WANT to be with.

Sometimes, you may feel pressure to spend your time in college doing specific things, whether joining a specific organization on campus or spending your time with a certain group of friends. However, everyone’s college experience is their own, and spending time doing something because you love it is reason enough to make a decision for how to spend your time! You will be so thankful in the end if you pushed yourself to spend time with people that love and uplift you.

Orientation Staff was an involvement I invested my time in because the people were weird and crazy, but created a family of goofballs that make this campus a more welcoming place.

2: Keep an open mind about your major and career path.

Furman is the kind of school that encourages you to find new academic interests and chase after them. That’s the beauty of the general education requirements. Don’t get freaked out if you take a class that you thought you “just had to take to graduate” and end up loving it. Explore that interest! Talk to a professor! College is the time to figure out what you really enjoy learning about, and if you’re open to unexpected interests, you may end up pursuing a career that make you more passionate or fulfilled than you thought possible.

Here is freshman Colleen circa 2015 working on a molecular gastronomy project with my lab group. Back in the day I thought I was going to be a doctor. How the times have changed, and I am so grateful for that!

3: Any experience is valuable, even if it teaches you that you don’t like something.

So many of my experiences at Furman have taught me what I don’t like. My internship in Brussels taught me that I do not want to be a policy maker. My study away experience to Japan made me realize that language barriers intimidate me. All of these are valuable lessons that have helped me understand myself better, and ultimately helped me realize what professional opportunities will be the best fit for me after leaving Furman.

I’m smiling in this picture because I am in a beautiful garden in Japan, but also because I’m not stressing about the language barrier; Dr. Yagi, our professor, is fluent in Japanese and a native citizen. Don’t be fooled. 🙂

4: Don’t take yourself too seriously.

There will always be reasons in life to be stressed; getting a certain grade, having a competitive resume, or even making your professor believe that you are smart and capable. While stress can be a productive motivator, it’s not worth sacrificing your happiness for. There are so many ways to have fun in college and reasons to celebrate, so try to take a step back from the day-to-day stress of being a busy college student to take care of yourself and have fun!

Whelp, that’s all I’ve got. It’s been a pleasure sharing my experiences with you and I hope that my stories have been helpful to you in picking your college home. For me, Furman was the perfect place to spend my four years.

Wishing you all the best,

Colleen

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