On this day five years ago, I graduated from college. I realize I’m only 27, but writing that makes me feel a little extra old. I could’ve sworn it wasn’t too long ago that I was cramming into the early hours of the morning, wishing on a day like today when exams and research papers would become a thing of the past. Today, I long to have those days back.
There’s a quote from my favorite TV show that says, “I wish there was a way to know you’re in the good old days before you’ve actually left them.” So, today, if it’s cool with you, I’d like to take a trip down memory lane with you all the way back to the good old days.
I still have vivid memories of my first tour of my alma mater, Bryant University. There was a fresh blanket of snow on a frigid day in January, and students hurriedly passed by me in pencil skirts and tailored suits. That was when I first realized business school was no joke. Questions and doubts swirled around in my head as to whether I could handle the workload at such a demanding college. Between hospital stays and frequent illnesses, I had my reservations. But with my personality, that just fueled me to chase after this education even more.
The transition from high school to college was anything but easy. I went from a community where everyone knew my name to a school where I was known as “the girl in the wheelchair.” It was up to me to prove myself to my peers. Although I was confident that people would eventually learn who Alyssa Silva is, the first semester was challenging. Being a commuter posed its challenges in meeting people. My friends from home had all moved away to go live the college experience, and loneliness had become my only friend. I turned all my focus to my schoolwork during that time.
Eventually, things became easier as they always do with time. I ended up meeting friends through my assistants and note takers who were also students on campus. I joined an organization on campus and became more involved. I learned how important advocating for myself was when it came to classes, heavy workloads, and intermittent hospital stays. Most of my professors were always understanding while I found a balance between my health being a number one priority and not taking the easy road with my education. And, most importantly, I learned so much about myself along the way.
On May 18, 2013, I left Bryant University with more than just a diploma in hand. The person staring back at me in the mirror that morning was nowhere similar to the girl who started college five years earlier. That girl was scared. She was timid and unsure of just how much she was capable of accomplishing.
But, on this day five years ago, that girl in the mirror was dressed in her black cap and gown with as much knowledge gained as wisdom. She was no longer scared. She was no longer unsure of the mountains before her to climb because she had proved to herself she was capable of hard things.
And, somehow, that felt even greater than the education earned.
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