I found myself sprinting through the airport in Toronto. I had just graduated the day before, shaking hands and celebrating four years of hard work. Seeing everything come to fruition thinking back on the past, the moments that led to this moment. What led to me sprinting through the Toronto airport? Was it the fact that my flight from Cleveland was delayed twice? How far back can we trace current events to the past? I’m not sure, but I know I like to think about the domino effect that events have. At this point the dominos had fallen to where I found myself sprinting through the airport and right when I was going to break stride and move to a fast walk I thought to myself: if you don’t make the flight you will think back to the moment where you didn’t run quite as hard as you could and regret it. I continued to sprint.
Four years ago I decided to be an economics major. After Econ 101 I knew it wouldn’t be an easy path. At the time Econ 101 was by far the hardest class I had ever taken up to this point in my life and I practically was living in my professor’s office hours. As I prepared for exams there were many moments in the library where I thought to myself, “I’ve done enough,” but then I thought: what if I don’t get the result I want when I take the test? If that was the case I would be stuck remembering the moment I didn’t give it my best effort and know that the result could have been different. I continued to sprint.
The moments where I continued to sprint led to me getting the opportunity to walk across the stage yesterday and graduate from Oberlin College. As I walked on to the stage with my fellow graduates I thought back to all the moments that had led to me receiving my diploma. They say it is not the destination but the journey. My journey at Oberlin College was truly incredible. After the ceremony my mother asked me whether it felt like the time went fast or slow. My response was that I haven’t figured that out yet.
Reflecting on the domino effect that got me here, it may have all started on the football field. Four years ago I was being recruited for football and it was an exciting experience coming out of high school. Getting to learn about the different colleges that were interested in me playing for their program and attending their college was amazing. The more I learned about various colleges, the more one particular college stood out to me. Oberlin College in Ohio stood out to me due to the post-graduate opportunities that they create for their students, strong alumni base, and professors that pay attention to detail. After learning more and more about Oberlin I decided to visit the campus; when I got there I saw a school that maintained a family environment throughout the campus. After the visit I was sold. I went all in on Oberlin and applied early decision. Excitement isn’t the word to describe how I felt once I officially got my acceptance letter, it felt more like the greatest thing ever. Oberlin maintains the message that one person can change the world, simultaneously one place can change a life. Attending Oberlin College changed my life forever.
How did I change? The dimensions of my reality shifted. Upon arrival at Oberlin I had a large focus on sports and school and not much else. Oberlin proceeded to grow my creative mind. I found myself writing poems and stories and eventually even performing them at Soul Session. In dorm rooms making words rhyme in front of my friends, I was discovering more of myself, more of my interests.
In the middle of sophomore year Covid sent us home and I found myself looking for direction. In quarantine I reflected and realized I needed to take more purposeful actions moving forward. I spoke with many Oberlin alumni and began to plan what I wanted my career post-Oberlin to look like. Luckily, Oberlin was able to jumpstart this through their Junior practicum program where I was able to intern at Sony music in the fall of my junior year. Working on developing young artists' careers while simultaneously learning marketing and finance information made the fall of 2020 an amazing time for me. This inspired me to look for more opportunities in the world of finance, and in the summer I found myself interning at a company that had a focus on mutual funds. Oberlin is a place that not only sets you up for success, but helps guide you along the way.
I long-jumped on the Oberlin track team for four years. For each jump I would sprint down the runway and gain more and more momentum before eventually catapulting myself into the world and landing into a pit of sand. When done correctly it felt like I was flying. My time at Oberlin was not a long jump runway, although a lot of times it did feel like I was flying. Oberlin was not a continuous sprint either, although there were moments when I had to push myself to not only grow as a student but also as an individual. Maybe for me Oberlin was a football game. There were moments of intensity, moments of bursts of energy, moments of nervousness, moments of repetitiveness, moments of patience, and moments of joy. Oberlin can’t be a football game, though, as in football you are assigned a position, a role on the team and in order for the team to maximize their potential everyone must perfect their role. Oberlin was never a place where I was assigned a role even after declaring my major. I graduated an Economics major and one of the major takeaways I will always have when reflecting on my time at Oberlin is how you can be anything in life if you are willing to work and plan for it. Over the past four years Oberlin has not only shown me, but proven that to me.
I was able to make my flight to Toronto with no time left to spare. The flight attendants were actually so shocked that I made the flight after the delay of my first flight that they cheered as I ran up to the gate. It was an exhilarating moment. I was able to walk the stage and graduate from Oberlin College as my friends and family cheered me on. The best part of this was that my friends at Oberlin have become my family; it was an amazing moment for me being able to celebrate surrounded by my family. It was an exhilarating moment. I am now finishing this blog in South Korea where I am visiting my girlfriend as she finishes up her study abroad program. One year ago I never thought I would have come to South Korea, I had never even traveled outside of the United States before. One year later, this is my second time coming to South Korea in four months. One of the coolest aspects is just yesterday I was able to visit a palace that we discussed in Korean History class at Oberlin. Oberlin is a place that will push you to pursue opportunities that you previously would have never thought of. It will allow you to learn about yourself, and experience things that will change your life forever. It will connect you to people that will change your life forever. When I first came to Oberlin College my mind was on sports and academics. After four years of playing sports and successfully graduating I have to say the Oberlin experience has expanded my mind to so much more. Today I am going to write poetry by the Han River while I eat chicken with my partner. Yesterday I was able to successfully connect with one of my partner’s friends through the discussion of economics, which I learned at Oberlin. Oberlin maintains that one person can change the world. I maintain that four years at Oberlin had a huge impact on my life for the better and helped grow my mind as a student and an individual.
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