Perhaps the most intimidating realization for any young person, who has made the decision to pursue secondary education, even if they manage to qualify for financial aid, is that in the near future they will be assuming an abundance of student loan debt. Subsequently, the more frustrating reality even is that this obstacle can often be the most critical deciding factor for a student who otherwise might have gone on to university, challenged themself, changed their environment, those around them, and been presented with opportunities that may very well have altered the course of their life.
What I came to realize in my 4 years, is that college truly is an invaluable experience. More than a degree, a skill set, a next step. It is a time to learn about yourself, those around you, where you might fit in in this world and, most importantly, how you stand out among the crowd. Tackling the 30,000 dollars in loans I had accumulated in my time at Oregon State was no easy task. In fact, I can honestly say it was something that occupied and weighed heavy on my mind ever single day after commencement. However, I can also say with equal if not greater certainty, there exists no dollar figure which could accurately represent the value in the college experience.
I remember a week before my high school graduation, a teacher (of Anthropology ironically enough) walked around the class and asked everyone what their next step was. I responded that I would be attending Oregon State next Fall in pursuit of a degree in Anthropology, expecting nothing less than a "best of luck" from him, but instead he questioned ‘why not go to PCC instead... to save money’.
I believe it is absolutely true that there are many paths in life, and a university is certainly not for everyone especially because, no matter what path you choose; success is never a guarantee. But, if I had known then what I know now, I imagine I would have 'flown off the handle' a bit after hearing his response.
The most important role as an effective teacher, professor, model for young people is supporting your students’ highest aspirations, the pathways they see best fit to achieve those, and nothing short of it! With that said, I want to say thank you to all of the real educators out there who OWN THEIR ROLES and invest SELFLESSLY, EVERY DAY, in the lives of students. The foremost, who presented me with opportunities which allowed me to view, first hand, the realities of our world which too few people will ever come close to understanding, and make memories that I will forever treasure; my greatest thanks and eternal gratitude to Joan Gross and, my mentor abroad, Judy Blankenship.
For me, 2019 has laid the foundation for any and all opportunities which may yet present themselves, and these days I consider myself to be one of the luckiest people because my passion and profession are working in unison. My day to day postgraduate life now consists of me working independently, running a small business, spending as much time as humanly possible honing and diversifying my skills as a digital media producer, and finding new ways to utilize my abilities as a visual anthropologist to make sense of, and translate to others; the most critical components of our lives and the human condition.
“Do what you love and you’ll never work a day in your life.”
There’s a lot of truth in that.