As the class of 2014 graduates from the University of Wisconsin – Madison, I am sad and glad to say that I will not be a part of it. I graduated from Madison East High School in 2010 and began my journey here at UW – Madison in that summer. For as much as I know, I had no clue on what I wanted to be or do. I kept claiming that I wanted to be an engineer or a computer guy, really? That wasn’t me at all. I had no clear line of focus, but to only go to college. I received multiple scholarships to attend the university, one of which included a four-year full ride, but I came up short and that was not knowing what my focus was.
My clear focus from the start was to take my education serious and at the same time, have fun. Every semester, I took no more than 13 credits giving me more time to myself. That doesn’t mean I was too lazy to take more classes, it just meant I wanted more breathing room for when the going got tough. Also, just because you take no more than 13 credits each semester doesn’t mean your GPA should be 3.8 or higher. College is rough and everyone has their ups and downs, but since I mentioned it, yes my GPA is higher than 3.0, but that’s not the point.
Even when I reflect back on the number of credits that I took, I just realize that there is something so much more to me than just graduating. When you began your journey as a undergrad, it’s easy. You may not have a major in mind yet, or you may be trying to feel out what the college life is all about. However, when you hit your final years in college, it’s more real than ever. This isn’t high school graduation we’re talking about or a little ceremony. Things will either get tough or rough, have it your way. You either go work, live with your parents until employment or………pay for grad school with no support of financial aid with the exception of loans. College isn’t free when you graduate as an undergrad and for me, I feel like I haven’t done enough to say I want to graduate yet. Yes, I’ve had multiple jobs during my undergrad and yes, Im working for the Center for Educational Opportunity (CeO), but will it help me once I graduate?
My sister graduated with a degree in Human and Development Family Studies this May and is going to pursue her Master’s in Higher Education at California State University, Fullerton. She was a McNair Scholar and created her own study abroad scholarship at UW-Madison. What does this have to do with me? Nothing. It has to do with finding a clear focus on what you want to do as you end your career as an undergrad. To many people it may not mean much, but to first generation Hmong Americans, these actions resonates throughout a family, tradition, or even community.
So why is this the graduation that was never meant to be? When I look on Facebook and see all my fellow friends or people I know who were high school graduates from 2010, I hope that each and everyone of them become successful as they enter the post-undergrad era. So as you go through your undergrad, find your niche, find what you love and pursue it. Take the experiences that you go through your undergrad and apply it to jobs and internship. Go study abroad because when you graduate, you may never ever be able to do it. Don’t major in something for the money, but for the joy and love that you have for it. What I’m trying to say is, have fun. If you don’t graduate in four years, you might or will in five. If you see all your friends graduate before you, it’s fine. Everyone goes down different paths that makes them who they are and this is why my graduation was never meant to be.