“Well, I grew up in a real town where the prom queen wore a plastic crown and we really did just drive around because there wasn’t shit to do.” -Jake Owen
2012. Three years ago, had you asked me what I was doing with my life, I would have answered with, “all the wrong things.” I was leaving small-town Illinois to pursue a degree in Public Relations at a university in the boot-heel of Missouri. At the time I was in love with a boy, a job, a town and a feeling of comfort. Why would I want to leave?
You see, in high school I blended in. You can ask basically everyone that I graduated with, I wasn’t popular but I wasn’t completely outcasted either. I didn’t find it necessary to stand out above the rest, whether that meant sporting Hollister and A&F or posing as a rebel without cause. I had my close friends, I had an amazing family and I had a really good GPA and future going. I didn’t need all the nitty gritty that came with being known.
I liked to read, so I did that often. I enjoyed shopping so sometimes we’d do that too. Mostly we rode around, watched movies, rode around some more. I’ll be the first to say that the party scene wasn’t actually ever a part of my life before college and I’m not the slightest bit upset about it. We still had drama, we still had gossip and we still made mistakes. Long story short, JGoodman & KFundi for life.
So that fall I left. Southeast Missouri State University. My mom and grandpa dropped me off, moved me in and made the trek back across the Mighty Mississippi. I was the first to move in on my floor, so to say I was ridiculously scared and lonely would be an understatement. Guess this is where I can thank Luke for taking me to Rowdy’s to get a sandwich, since I probably never did.
Eventually, after a couple lock-outs and weird encounters, the majority of the 7th floor of Towers North became a family. Now’s where I can thank Sam Bruni for being the best RA I actually could have imagined having my freshman year. 98% of the time she really wanted to kick our asses, but at the end of the year I’m proud to say we were all still standing. I owe a huge thanks to that floor though, and all its members. That’s where I first came out of my shell and realized that what everyone said about growing up and changing in college is a good thing.
Then came Gamma Sigma Sigma, where I owe another huge thanks to Sam Bruni for breaking the rules and barging into a residents room flaunting a flyer about rush. We joked about t-shirts for the first two weeks, but I’m pretty sure what we all got out of those letters was much, much more.
2013/2014. Breaking out of my shell turned into taking opportunities. I couldn’t tell you why, but Emily and I decided to co-chair philanthropy committee that year. I mean, thanks to everyone for voting for us, especially considering it was the first leadership position I had ever held in my entire life. The long nights of planning and the consistent let-downs were well worth it though, because seeing our vision for a greater See-Saw come to life and raise over $1,000 for the first time was more than life changing for me.
So I became interested in non-profit work. Here’s another shoutout to Laci, who took Beth and I to a Colleges Against Cancer meeting in January of 2014. I don’t want to say that the very first meeting completely paved the way for my future, but the leadership opportunities that followed most certainly did.
I started the Fall 2014 semester off as Special Events and Luminaria Co-Chair for Colleges Against Cancer and the National Representative for Gamma Sigma Sigma. Two years ago I was crying over a sub-sandwich across from a kid that I was kind-of friends with in high school, and now I’m serving on two executive boards in positions that open up my leadership opportunities to the masses.
This is where I’ll shamelessly plug that at CAC’s annual Relay for Life event this past year, we raised over $15,000, which was our goal. ($5,000 more than the year before.) I’m also proud to say that the Alpha Psi chapter of Gamma Sigma Sigma walked away from our 2015 National Convention with two awards that completely changed the way we’re looked at as a chapter. I’m proud to say that I was a small piece of the puzzle of these accomplishments.
2015. So, here we are. I wouldn’t by any means say that I’m a religious person, but I do have faith in something bigger and I’ve been extremely blessed with my time in Cape Girardeau. I’ve had the opportunities to travel, to grow, to learn and to live.
I’m going into my senior year as the President and Co-Event Chair of Colleges Against Cancer and the Relay for Life Planning Committee, and I get to work alongside the girl who will someday be the maid-of-honor at my wedding, assuming. To say I get this experience and with one of my favorite people is just as rewarding as knowing I have someone like her in my life.
I was also just one of five who were honored with the Emerging Leader Award for Gamma Sigma Sigma, and I’m excited to say I’ll hopefully soon be starting an internship with our National Marketing Director. I may have taken a small step backwards within our chapter, but hopefully over the next few years I’ll get the chance to represent this era of Alpha Psi on an even bigger level. The opportunity and recognition that I was just given is that of which I will never be able to fully express my gratitude for.
I’m also writing for The Odyssey Online and serving as the Social Media Director of the Southeast Missouri State chapter. This is a completely new experience and organization that I can’t wait to get more involved in and work with on an even greater level come this fall.
I still have a year left, but looking back on how much I grew over the last three, I’d have to say SEMO better watch out. I’m going all in for the rest of this journey and I’m ready to play with the best of ’em.
So why write this? I’m in no way a motivational speaker, but I decided that I needed to write a real-life success story that doesn’t involve someone saving a hopeless creatures life. You see, we have this façade where we believe that in order to consider yourself successful you have to do something big. You have to grab the medias attention, you have to make it big.
That’s a lie. You’re going to walk in and out of doors of a million interviews in your lifetime, but all it takes is one offer. I’ve always been shy, and because of that I was certain that I was damned in my field of profession. I haven’t been back to tackle these final classes, but I’m proud to say that this summer I realized my college career was successful.
I don’t know all of you and I don’t know your stories. What I do know is that you hold the potential to change your world, whether it be as a city official, a politician, a businessman, a social worker, an actress, a performer or anything, honestly. You even have the potential to change the world. So the next time you feel like you’ve accomplished something, even the most minor of tasks, give yourself a pat on the back and don’t let anyone tell you that what you completed doesn’t matter.
Go on and create the next big thing.