If you would have asked me 4 years ago where I saw myself at graduation, I probably would’ve told you that I’d be moving to LA to pursue a career as a singer. I’d be in love with someone spectacular and living the picture perfect life of a 20-something as portrayed in movies and tv shows.
Unfortunately and fortunately, life happens and things change. Within the past 4 years I’ve grown so much and now I’m getting ready to graduate from The University of Texas at Austin with a Bachelor of Arts degree in English and a minor in African & African Diaspora Studies. I never imagined having the journey I’ve had including all of the ups and downs. Looking back I can’t say that I have any regrets because every choice I’ve made has helped me to become the man I am today. I guess I’ll take a walkthrough of every year until this point.
My first year of college was a struggle academically. Saying that I came in feeling adequately prepared is a complete lie. I had no idea what I was getting into. I was the first of my mom’s children to attend college and no one understood how much of an uphill battle it was. Socially, it was great. I joined an amazing fraternity, came right in and found a boo (even though it didn’t last), and made memories that would last a lifetime. On top of school and orgs I also worked. Freshman year was an interesting one for sure.
My second year of college came with a whole new set of challenges. I thought about changing my major, served as pledge educator for my fraternity, was on the hall government for my residence hall and applied to be an RA. It was an emotional year for sure. I was in love with my RA, suffered from a bout of depression and felt like I was losing myself. I didn’t want to talk with anyone about what I was going through because that would mean that Mr. Got It All Together really didn’t have it all together. I suffered from it and nobody knew just how I was hiding a shattering soul underneath the smile I wore everyday. I was self medicating with music and other things that college students do. Thankfully nothing horrible happened.
My third year of college was absolutely amazing. It was my first year as an RA and I found my sense of purpose. I made some lifelong friends and really started to figure out just who Ronnie was. I started to perform locally for money and my music started to speak to others. I found a happy place. I discovered what I wanted to do with the rest of my life: I want to work with students. When I say I loved being an RA, I loved being an RA and seeing the growth of my residents from the start of the year to the end. Student Affairs became a passion of mine. I got to act in my first play for a course, applied to be a Senior RA, got hired, applied for NUFP (NASPA Undergraduate Fellows Program), and spent my summer exploring Austin as a Summer RA. Oh and did I mention I turned 21! After the emotional torture of sophomore year, Junior year was a nice comeback.
My last year of undergrad was focused not on graduating, but getting into graduate school. I went through the application process, the interview process, and the waiting game. It was emotionally taxing the whole way through, but I wouldn’t have had it any other way. My grad school process as you may know was not easy at all. I applied to 5 schools, got rejected by 3 in the application stage, interviewed at 2, had my heart set on another, and then wound up not attending any for various reasons. It sucked. I felt like I put in all that time and energy for nothing. At the time, I didn’t realize what I was getting by not going to grad school right after undergrad. I was/am getting an opportunity to carve out exactly what I want. I have a year to literally do whatever I want and create the experiences I want to have for the first time in my life. I can go wherever I want, discover exactly what I want and craft the kind of person I want to be. I will be apply to graduate schools again in the fall but I have the opportunity to do just about anything for an entire year. I’m excited.
In a few days, I will be walking across the stage ending my time here as an undergrad at UT. After graduation I will be working as an Orientation Advisor for the class of 2018 welcoming incoming Longhorns to the university that has been my home for the past 4 years. What will happen when orientation is over is still a mystery to me. I’ll figure things out when they get here, but thankfully whatever happens will be MY choice. Ronnie is about to enter adulthood. I don’t know if I’m ready, but I’m excited for the ride. One chapter of my life is closing, but the rest is just beginning!