On Graduating College

When I was in high school, I wanted nothing more than to attend New York University for college. My parents were both graduates, it had an excellent nursing program, and of course, I was itching to move out of suburbia and into the big city. I applied early decision. I vividly remember receiving the decision email while driving home from school with my brother, and having to wait throughout the entire drive to open it. As soon as I got home, I opened the email to an acceptance letter and started crying. It was one of the best days of my life.

Four years later, NYU is still my dream school, and I'm so grateful for all of the amazing memories I've made. It's crazy how time flies-- and looking back, I'm no longer the same girl who opened that acceptance letter all those years ago. I've grown into so much more, learned so much more, and I'm so excited to now be graduating with a BS in Nursing and a minor in Child and Adolescent Mental Health Studies.

It wasn't an easy journey. I remember nights I spent over my notes, feeling hopeless because I wasn't confident enough in the material. There were times when I felt like no matter how much I studied, my test scores would never improve. I feared the idea of failure, and the nagging thoughts that I wasn't good enough. I found myself comparing myself to others too often.

It took time to change this thought process and to harness a healthier relationship with academics. What definitely helped me to do so were my clinical rotations and working part time in the health care setting. In the hospital, instead of memorizing information or typing up essays, I was applying knowledge in the real world, taking care of patients and practicing my interventions. From these experiences, I began to realize that your abilities aren't defined by the scores you receive on your tests. This isn't to say that academics aren't important, but at some point you have to stop beating yourself up for not meeting every goal. And I have confidence that I will be a good nurse no matter what my GPA might be.

New York University doesn't give you your typical college experience. Everything is very spread out, and there isn't a true campus. Add in the fact that there are over 50,000 students attending the college and you really just feel like a blip in the radar. My walking to commute to class was typically around 15-25 minutes, and once I began nursing sequence, all of my classes were held in a different building far away from the main campus, where most of the student population is. There were times I felt isolated and lonely because my friends didn't live within a convenient distance or because our schedules wouldn't match up. The city is so large, sometimes it feels like you're going to be swallowed up in it.

However, while New York may be large, it's just as exciting. Being on my own for the first time brought lots of new experiences. I figured out how to take public transportation everywhere. I learned what raving is. I gained the freshman 10. I joined a sorority and realized it wasn't for me after two years. I'm also grateful for the opportunities I've been able to have because of living in NYC like visiting museums and galleries, frequenting different coffee shops, going to various events, and eating at all of the trendy food places. These experiences have made my time in college both fun and exciting, and they definitely helped to balance out some of the stress.

I'm very lucky to have made some amazing friends throughout the years as well. From my freshman year roommates (shout out to Toyosi for shooting lots of these grad pics!) to people I met just a few weeks ago, my friends have had a huge impact on my college experience. Many of these friends are people I can share anything with, and people who have been and will always be there for me. Even when I can only catch up with some friends once in every few months, when we do it feels as though nothing has changed. In a busy city with busy people, it's a comfort to know that you can always pick right back up where you left off.

I grew a great deal because of my friends during college. Starting small, I can thank my friends for introducing me to some of the music I listen to, shows I watch, and foods I now eat (I used to be an extremely picky eater). At a larger level, some friends have helped me to understand myself better than before, and have taught me life lessons that I will take with me beyond graduation. I'm thankful to have been able to grow alongside friends like these. However, I also learned that not all friendships are meant to last, and that that's alright too. Whether we keep in touch or not, I'm grateful for the people who have made a positive impact in my life.

College was a roller coaster-- fun and exciting, with ups and downs--  but I'm so thankful for the ride and what it's taught me. It's on to the "real world" now, and I'm excited to be entering a field that I'm passionate about. I began my journey towards nursing because of my grandfather, who passed away one month ago. Though he is no longer with us, I still hope I can make him proud, and that I can have a positive impact on the lives of many others like him. So while my journey in college may be over, I can't wait to see what the next chapter holds.


Photos by Toyosi Oyelola and Phoebe Wu.

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