I think a lot about what kind of advice I can give to my fellow Mercer classmates.
You see, I am at least 10 years older than the other members of The Cluster staff.
I am a student in the evening program, finally finishing my Bachelors degree after having started it as a freshman in 2001—when most of you were probably still in elementary school.
I did not see my path going this way at all. Growing up, college was simply expected, and, frankly, taken for granted. Life has given me lots of twists and turns that I did not expect.
Dropping out of college with just a semester left was not my best laid plan at all. Getting married really young, having two beautiful young children, starting a career which would last nearly five years before changing gears altogether (taking a $20,000+ pay cut in the process, but which would allow me to do something I really enjoyed), has led to where I am now.
Now, I am in school again full time. Now, I am divorced and a single parent. Now, due to being laid off from my job, I am being forced to reinvent myself and try to start a business—something I would not have had the courage to do otherwise. Now, I am able to be fully engaged with my community in a way that I have always desired to be but scheduling would not allow.
If I could impart any wisdom on each of you, it’s to take life as it is. Roll with the punches. Make the most of it all. Never stop learning, because, as I learned in management, there are learning moments in every day which will contribute to the person you are meant to be.
Don’t take your time here at Mercer for granted. Mercer gives you a unique chance to make a real difference, to engage not just in the Mercer community but in the city of Macon as well. When I was a freshman, we did not have Mercer Village, College Hill Corridor or even the trolleys late in the evening.
Do you know who came up with the trolley idea? People on SGA. I know, because I was in that meeting. However the next year when it came about, I had left Mercer. I left Mercer for two years, thinking Macon,this town I grew up in, where my church was down the street, was choking me.
It was two years later when I came home, realizing there was no other place for me. That Mercer was the place for me.
And now I am finally finishing up my degree, but I will never be finished with Mercer. Even if I do not get in to the Master’s program I apply for, Mercer will always be a part of me. I will always come back to ADPi bid day and bring my daughter, with the hopes that she and my son will want to be a part of this community. Mercer leads the way for so many things here, and you can too.
I am so excited to be here on campus, to not just attend the evening program but to also participate as an editor for The Cluster. I frankly don’t feel the age difference between myself and my other peers on staff. Well, maybe I do every now and then.
I also want each of you to know that I am here for you. One reason I believe I was chosen as the local editor is due to my deep Macon ties. It can be intimidating to be new to a town, and I want to do everything I can to make Macon—as well as Mercer—feel like it belongs to you. If you ever have any questions for me, my email is always open to you, and I am always up for an excuse to meet and have a coffee.