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Transformation through Higher Education

Transformation through Higher Education
In addition to providing a pathway to a more fulfilling career, higher education is vital for a student’s confidence and courage.
Prior to attending University of North Carolina at Charlotte (UNC Charlotte), I was narrowly focused professionally. If I wanted a specific project, I went after it. When I wanted to leave the music industry, I focused my energy solely on finding a job in NASCAR. After working for a NASCAR team for a while, the realization set in that I had achieved what I wanted but not necessarily what I needed.

Unfulfilled professionally and looking to change careers — after much encouragement from those close to mewhobelieved my pursuit of higher education would be a success — I enrolled at UNC Charlotte and began my pursuit of a new path.

My interests evolved during my pursuit of a bachelor’s degree in political science, with an international relations major and Africana studies minor.

At the beginning of this journey, I was fearful and slightly resistant to spending my days with individuals 20yearsyounger than myself, but those feelings quickly faded away. Today I consider individuals I never would haveexpectedto have anything in common with as friends.

Additionally, the fear of being too old to pursue higher education and an alternate career path was ever present. Added to my concerns was the uncertainty about taking time off from work, and whether it would laterprovea disadvantage. I honestly had no idea if I would make it through my first semester, yet here I am five years later working on a master’s degree at New York University (NYU).

Today, I am not as obsessed with age. I no longer view life in my 40s as an obstacle to success, but as an advantage.

Looking back on thelastfewyearsof my previous career, I was not very social, which is ironic considering I was a communications professional. Now I take advantage of all opportunities available to engage in this new world of politics, international affairs and economics that fascinates me.

Though my social circle has always included friends from around the globe, spending time in classes with individuals from diverse backgrounds better informed me about ideas and situations I thought I understood. I am more inquisitive and, though I have always been open to hearing other people’s ideas, I consider myself a better listener at this stage. I may have even changed my opinion on a few issues.

I have always considered myself adaptable to change but realized I was adjusted to a routine before I went back toschool. Academia has pushed me out of the comfort zone I built up over the years. I am more enthusiastic about life and my career. I figured out what intrigues, drives and inspires me in the world. I once placed those concepts away on a shelf because I believed they had no direct impact on paying the bills.

Now, however, I believe those ideas are the key to my success at the university level and also for my future endeavors. Some of my courage and confidence had slowly chipped away over the years but has now returned. I am not afraid to put myself out there and take risks. Professionally, I am no longer trepidatious about my future prospects. I am enthusiastic. There is more clarity regarding my future goals but I am open to the possibilities and not set on a specific final outcome.

I no longer worry daily about my future as I did when this journey began. Instead, I continue down the educational path, enjoying all of the scenery. When my time at NYU concludes, I will likely end up at a roundabout full of optimism and the confidence to choose an option that will challenge me while simultaneously allowing for financial

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