A note from a former EIC

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Erin Cafferty | ecafferty@radford.edu

I graduated in May 2016 with a very uncertain future looming over my head. I had accepted a particularly stellar summer internship, but even that had an end date. I was faced with the choice of continuing my education and committing to graduate school or taking a risk and seeing where my internship led me. I knew I had gained valuable experience during my time in undergraduate at Radford University that could come in handy during grad school, but I also was ready to put my skills and knowledge I accumulated as a student leader for The Tartan to the test in the “real world.” In times of uncertainty, such as life after graduation, sometimes there is nothing to do but accept what comes your way and make the absolute most of each opportunity that is presented.

This line of thinking helped me to finally decide that graduate school was the right choice for me. It was a risk – did I really want to take out loans for even more schooling, did I really want to succumb myself to two more years of stress and research papers – but I could not have imagined it turning out any better.  So when I found out this summer how much less expensive a master’s degree at Radford was than I had originally thought, I applied, was accepted, and began saving every last cent I earned to pay for tuition.

While you may be unable to relate to the experience of graduating with so much uncertainty looming over your head, here is something you can understand. While nothing can fully prepare you for what lies ahead in your life, there are things you can do to be proactive and put yourself in the best situation possible in order to make the right choice when the time comes. Part of my reasoning for delaying entering the workforce was because of my hesitation to begin life in the “real world.” I felt unprepared, but the reality was I knew more than I gave myself credit for and was able to apply what I learned from previous experiences – during my time as Editor-in-Chief and throughout my four years at Radford – to difficult situations and tasks during the course of my internship.

If someone would have told me freshman year that before I graduated college I would be the Editor-in-Chief of Radford’s newspaper, I would have pointed out that there are almost 10,000 students here and I would never be good enough to occupy that spot. While writing for the paper was something I planned to do before I was accepted, I was not in a hurry to make it my main priority. My time during my first year was split between schoolwork, thoroughly “experiencing college” with my friends, and writing an article (almost) every week for the Insights section. I was invested in the organization, but I was prioritizing time with my friends over doing what I came to college to do: gain indispensable, applicable experience in what I was passionate about.

So I encourage you to embrace the uncertainty, step out of your comfort zone, and trust in what you have learned here at Radford from your classes, from the organizations you are a part of, from your professors and friends, and especially from yourself. You are here at college to grow and as someone who transformed from a self-conscious partier to a confident scholar in just four short years, your growth is only limited by the effort you put into it. Believe in yourself and if you ever need encouragement, stop by the S.O.A.R office in the Bonnie (I am a Graduate Assistant there!) and we can chat about what you hope to achieve during your time at Radford.