Monday, January 18, 2016

What Would You Tell Your 18- to 20-Year-Old Self?

"What would you tell your 18- to 20-year-old self?" 

I fielded that question from a 20-year-old recently, and found myself stumbling for a response. The first thing that came to mind was that I’d tell my 18- to 20-year-old self to wake up and focus. I had to laugh because I said, “I don’t think my 18- to 20-year-old self would care enough to listen!”

However, after another moment of reflection, the answer came to me: I would tell myself to “find your passion – start searching for what matters to you, and everything else will start to connect and come together for you.” And I think my younger self might have even listened to those words of wisdom. 

My parents gave me similar advice that since has solidified in my memory as “find work you love to do and it will feel like you never work a day in your life.” 

As with most things parents say, they seem to have more value as you grow older. I’ve always enjoyed being around people, which probably influenced my decision to major in communications as an undergraduate. Pursuing graduate degrees in community college administration primarily came from my own empowering experience at Mott Community College in Flint, Mich. And as my parents now know, I most certainly love what I do. 

As I reflected further on the question at hand, the notion of passion, for me, goes deeper than just loving what you do. The democratic roots of this country that empower people to achieve whatever they can imagine has always been with me through the years with my enduring interest in American history. I’ve come to believe that nothing is more empowering than knowledge and learning – a college education and degree. My passion is empowering others and working at a community college allows me to connect with that desire on a daily basis when I walk through the door to work each day. 

Working at community colleges over the past 25 years — and more specifically at MVCC for the past 8.5 years — has provided me the good fortune of working with amazing people helping thousands of students find the empowering agent of education. I don’t know if my path would have been any different if I was able to answer the question for myself all those years ago, but I feel lucky to have found the answer over the years. 

What would you tell your 18- to 20-year-old self?

If you have any comments or questions, please contact me directly at presblog@mvcc.edu.