Winter – It’s the reason I came to Westminster. I’ve always had such a calling for getting on my board and cruising down the mountain. Ever since I was a young boy, Utah has been the promise land, and leaving New York was my first true step towards chasing passion.
Education – I remember sitting down with my parents at the dinner table in New York discussing a variety of colleges. I chose Westminster for the small size and the personalized attention I would receive. The opportunity to tailor my experience with a custom entrepreneurship degree allowed exposure to the frameworks of great entrepreneurs, a theoretical base which I will treasure forever. I learned how to study during my college years. It was something that I hadn’t recognized the importance of during high school, but as collegiate student, the act of burying your head in a textbook is an essential ingredient in the recipe for success.
Skills – I learned quite a few skills over the past few years. The first being social. Going to a high school full of only guys and coming to a school with co-ed classrooms was quite a shock. I loved it, but it took me awhile to be comfortable in my own skin. I also learned how to deal with roommates, professors, and friends in both good and bad times.
Thought – Learning how to critically think was one of the cornerstones of my collegiate education. For example, sociology class made me much more mindful of my daily interactions with public transportation. Looking around at the class of residents who ride the bus with a new lens helps me understand the world. Another example is when I performed as a sophomore trying to understand ways that I could holistically treat my symptoms of ADHD without having to take medication. Finals week, hard assignments, and difficulties with social relationships have bore many stresses upon my mind. It wasn’t until my final year of school where I developed the habit of meditation. What an amazing activity to bring lucidity and grounding to my rapid running train of thought.
Mistakes – Oh yes. I’ve made my fair share of these. A few actions that I’ve done over the past few years put me to shame. I can see it with my peers where certain groups have lost all respect for me as an individual because I lost my self control. I had to go through multiple counseling sessions and spend a lot of time reflecting on who I was as a person and what I care about. “What are my standards of integrity?” That is what I strove to lay out for my own growth.
There is a water fountain in the center of campus that has a quote on it which says:
“The only mistake is the one from which we learn nothing.” – John Powell
Independent – I moved away from the home base in New York to live the next chapter here in Salt Lake. The first time I was on my own was in the dorms, and oh boy, what an experience. I remember the green carpeted floors of Hogle, the loud nights filled with the laughter and music coming from multiple dorm rooms, my buddy Shibl and I playing frisbee in the hallway, the gross diet I consumed for an entire year. Wow! What fun.
Now, as I graduate, the experiences of dealing with landlords, my own credit card, having to take care of my dishes and housekeeping… that has helped me get a sliver closer to the real taste of independence. Though, this reflection would not be complete without a humble ode of gratitude to my family, who’s been there and supported me both financially and mentally throughout the years. I truly could not have done it without you.
Novel – College has widened my appreciation and awareness for the beauty in every person and subject. I began to think with less judgment as I began this new chapter in my life. Painting; that was new. I began to love the way the bristles rub against the grainy surface of the canvas. Such a meditative practice. This is just a metaphor for many of the experiences I’ve had in school.
I’ve fallen in love, seen incredible sights, experience a vast amount of different cultures, hooked up with different groups of people, developed a passion for cooking, constructed new facets of my identity, shredded deep powder, and many more. College has been beautiful in that regard.
I’m not sure if it was college that was the trigger for those aspects of personal development. I am sure, without a doubt, that it acted as an accelerator. I was forced outside of my bubble of familiarity many times which inevitably leads to uncovering of new ideas and passions.
Success – I came to understand what I am looking for, at least at this stage of life, which has to do with freedom, relationships, and the ability to create. I was exposed to many different types of people in school, all with fascinating reasons that motivated them towards their own definition of success. In my life, it was mentors, readings and experiences that helped me to form a laid back, create your own reality, type of impression for my future. It is much more solidified now as I graduate than when I entered school as a freshman. My priorities have definitely evolved, while still remaining true to their original integrity. They are different enough that I can see that life is a process of ever evolving value systems.
Teamwork – Ah yes, the ability to work well with others. I don’t think I learned how to do this well until I was two or more years into college. Experience is the only way I could learn where my strengths and weaknesses lie. I believe the entrepreneurship classes, during my junior and senior year, where I had a team of students working on my own project was when I learned how to begin delegating out tasks, effectively organizing work hours, etc.
Looking back, the most useful teamwork building exercises were co-curricular with my entrepreneurship endeavors. Many times I had to rely on the skillsets of videographers, web designers, writers, etc. to help transition a vision to reality. Throughout my time as a Griffin, I was put into an ecosystem comprised of many different personalities with varying ambitions. It was an opportunity for me to see who I wanted to connect with, or at least what qualities I’ll look for in a potential relationship whether as a friend, biz partner, or life partner.
Engage – Some professors, they engage, like the way they stare right at you and make you answer their questions. That was when the true learning happened for me. It was the professors that pushed my comfort zone in the early years of college that allowed me to feel comfortable raising my hand and offering my opinion in the later years. The most engaging learning experience I had throughout my college experience was hands down the mentor relationships I was able to form (both in and out of the college environment). I’ve become close to a couple of professors who either share the same value systems, have done the things I want to do, or are just people I feel that I should connect with and learn as much as possible from. This type of relationships really flourished when I became a senior in school. I finally felt that I was able to have enough of a background and direction where the relationships would develop around a real substance. I now know I can see something through till the end. A four year journey, although done by many people, is not an easy task for any individual. Although I never questioned whether or not I’d see it through, there were so many hours put into this degree. The degree stands for my ability to complete a task and I love that. I’m not the best student. Nope, no way. But, I’ve been exposed to models of excellence over the last few years that I can look to when I feel lost. I decided to put my head down and really grind out the second to last semester of my career and ended up with straight A’s for the first time in my life. That was a huge accomplishment for me.
Reflect – What a beautiful feeling it is to have the ability to look back over the last four years of my life. The people, subjects, and environment around Westminster will have an everlasting impression on me. It is such a pleasure and honor to have attended this great school. It is a place that will forever be the keepsake of many failures and at the same time many successes.