Last spring break I read a book that changed my perspective about students, and myself. It is called “Outliers: The Story of Success” by Malcom Gladwell.
We are all an element of our circumstances. Our lives are shaped by the advantages and disadvantages we encounter.
It seems as if we can look back on our past and point out the bad decisions or all the things that maybe didn’t go to our advantage. I see students making bad decisions weekly and sometimes daily. These decisions lead to sometimes lifelong heartache and struggle.
I want to encourage you today to make the sacrifices needed today so that you can have the opportunities tomorrow.
I want to share a little bit of my journey as a ETBU student to a current ETBU Assistant Professor.
When I reflect on my life story, I can’t help but notice how many situations allowed me to have an advantage. For example, I was 1 of only 8 people that were allowed to take dual credit college courses at my high school. We were the first group in the history of the high school to have access to this opportunity. When I came to college, I had 12 college credit hours completed. This allowed me to graduate early. Since I knew I could graduate early, I realized I could take courses over the summer and graduate even earlier. I graduated from ETBU in 5 semesters or 2.5 years. I then got a Graduate Teaching assistant position and moved into an apartment across from UNT. A year into my Master’s, I got the opportunity to be a House Director at one of the Sorority houses. I was then able to stay somewhere rent free, get paid to live/work, and still keep my job teaching at UNT. I was able to pay for most of my Masters & PhD degree out of pocket. During my PhD program at Texas Woman’s University, I had 2-3 other part-time adjunct teaching jobs at other universities (in addition to being a Graduate Teaching Assistant at TWU). I successfully defended my dissertation in Aug. 2012.
So I went from… freshman year at ETBU as a student in Aug. 2004… to Assistant Professor (ABD) at ETBU in Aug. 2011. I was motivated. God gave me the desire to work hard and to take advantage of every opportunity.
I do not apologize for being young. I have worked hard to get here. I still have a lot of work to do.. God is still shaping me.
When reading the book “Outliers,” I noticed how our good and bad decisions take a toll on the direction of our life. It is easy for me to write the paragraph above and leave out all the failures I encountered along that 7 year journey. But the important thing is… I got where I wanted to go. I didn’t stop or give up when I encountered those difficulties.
So when you encounter your next “failure” or “difficulty”… remember that this is a journey… not a sprint… not a race won by only one path…
I don’t know exactly where I will be or what I will be doing in the next 7 years. But I hope I look back on this time in my life and can see how God was shaping me for what is ahead.