To paraphrase an African proverb: “It takes a village to raise a child.”
There was a village that raised me before I came to American University: my family, friends, coaches, teachers and more. Each of them provided some perspective that guided me to where I needed to be. In some ways, the village raises you to embark on your journey. My journey led me here, graduating on Mother’s Day this year.
Over the past couple of months, I’ve reflected on my time at AU, Kogod and the larger DC community. I cannot speak to everyone’s journey, but in my moments of introspection, I’ve thought as much about the people in my life as my experiences. Each moment, from move-in-day to present moment, has been a continuous learning experience.
What I will miss the most from college will be the community of teachers, staff and peers. I am still making friends in classes this year. I’ve expanded my village with bosses at internships, or jobs on campus, like working as a Teaching Assistant for KSB-100 (Business 1.0) or working at the Kogod Center for Career Development (KCCD). I found my village in academic advisors helping me to carve out my path at Kogod like Rene Thomas, and mentors like Quentin Johnson in Graduate Admissions who helped me develop into the leader I want to be. I cannot forget professors like Professor Evans and da Motta Veiga, who wrote recommendations for me and met with me outside of class to help strategize on job negotiations.
Most importantly, I found my village in the class of 2017. As I look out into the sea of Kogod students, I see my village. I see the people I studied with late at night for exams (and others who I did a little less studying with!). I see future business partners, potential colleagues and peer mentors. Finding your village in college isn’t easy, but over time positive and negative experiences help bring into focus those who are integral to how you came to be the best “you” that you can be.
As we return to our communities, and others set off to find new ones, it’s important to remember what made our time and experiences here valuable: each other. Relationship building is the key to building a diverse, vibrant village. We have found commonalities with people from different backgrounds, religions, races and sexual orientations here, and created unbreakable bonds. Instead of leaving the “village,” let’s expand on it. As we enter the workforce and impact the world through a variety of careers and businesses, remember how much of a strong force these connections can and will be when we rise up the ranks of the working world together. I am sad about leaving my village, but I’m ready to take their stories and experiences as my journey continues.
It takes a village to raise a child, and I thank the Kogod community for their help as I continue to grow, making my departure from family and friends at home worth it. I look forward to seeing how everyone graduating finds our new village in the working world, post-grad education and making an impact as a member of someone else’s village.