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Ben Petit

School of Public Affairs, Bachelor of Arts in Political Science


boughtonThis is a time when a lot of graduates worry whether they're ready for "the real world," but at American University, we don't just prepare for the real world – we engage with it. This isn't easy, because it forces us to challenge the way we think about the world, but it may be the most empowering takeaway from our education.

I came to AU as an idealistic freshman wanting to make a difference, work in politics, and fight issues like global poverty. Shortly after arriving, I realized that getting into my dream school meant questioning some of my dreams. I worked on Capitol Hill, and I learned that my passion for making a difference was only as strong as the passions that prevented change. I went to Myanmar with AU's alternative break program and realized how hard it is to fight poverty abroad if you don't understand a culture that experiences the world differently than you do.

These have all been frustrating realizations, but they forced me to think more deeply about the world around me and my place in it. Learning from the real world isn't easy, but because American University gave me that chance, I'm ready to make a real difference.

I still have a lot to learn, but my advice to the class of December 2015 is that if you're walking away from you're experience a little more confused but a little more enlightened, you are more ready than ever for the real world.