Four years ago I graduated from college. Unlike my peers, I was not happy about this accomplishment. During my senior year, I applied to Teach for America and did not get in, which wasn’t much of a surprise. Teaching was not in my destiny in this context (I later became a Sunday school teacher which was more aligned with my purpose), but what the application process of Teach for America did reveal to me was how much debt I accumulated during my four years of college.
When I saw all those zero’s, I couldn’t believe it. I cried, screamed, yelled, and resented my degree. I resented everything it stood for because the knowledge that I gained in undergrad wasn’t worth that kind of money. I wrote to President Obama because the government was also on my angry list. I couldn’t believe we lived in a country where education, to ultimately make a decent living could be so expensive, especially when there are countries like Sweden, Denmark, and even Germany that sponsor their citizen’s college education. The President responded but clearly, there was nothing he could do.
When I walked across the stage I reluctantly took my degree. A few days later, I packed my bags, got settled back into my apartment in Brooklyn and began to search for jobs. I felt like I was carrying the weight of the world on my shoulders. I only had until December to figure out my life or else I would be in big trouble with those loan sharks. I applied to jobs daily. I was desperate, willing to take on anything, but what I noticed was that a lot of these positions wanted people with 1-3 years of experience. Immediately, I felt like I hit a wall. Finally, I decided to put my life in God’s hands. I prayed for miracles, started going to church, and lived my life by taking advantage of this time off. I started to volunteer. I worked for Catholic Charities for 2-months until I was offered a paid position there. My starting salary would be $26k. I remember being so excited when they gave me my offer letter. I called my mom and told her my volunteering efforts landed me my first job.
Mom: Kydee that’s not a lot of money at all
Me: But mom its more than what I am making now
Mom: Well, hold off and see what else may come your way
I held off, and literally, a few days later my mother’s friend told me of a position at her job. The job was for a financial software firm on Wall Street (well technically Fulton Street but you get my drift). My starting salary was way more than what Catholic Charities offered me (way more) and I would finally be able to prove myself in a corporate setting. My first year at this firm was rough, but I made it through. Now I’ve been here for 3-years, just scored one of the biggest raises of my life and I have the trust of my CEO which is most important. One day when we were working late he told me “Kydee you are going to be super successful.” I was so excited because I finally had his stamp of approval. Being able to come into Corporate America completely ignorant to how the financial world works and finally having a grasp on it is one of the best feelings ever. The school of life definitely taught me more than any degree could have but I still think a degree is so valuable. I would’ve never been able to walk through the doors of my company if I wasn’t a graduate from such a prominent institution like Penn State University.
Four years later I am reflecting. Quite frankly, that strong feeling of uncertainty, when it feels like all odds are against you is scary. You have this “profound” degree and can’t land a job in your dream career. Life is moving fast, people are going to work and you are left as a spectator, thinking to yourself if only I could get a chance, I would be the best darn worker that the company has ever seen. Thankfully, someone gave me a chance and I worked hard. Recent graduate life is filled with uncertainty, and this is the best time to build faith in God because he will take your life to heights you have never dreamed. Sometimes, I want to go back to school for a higher degree but that strong feeling of uncertainty haunts me. School is an investment, and we have to make sure we are hearing our voices and drowning out the voices of family and friends who tell us what they think we should do. We also have to make sure what we are going to school for is something we are passionate about because you will want to work twice as hard at becoming successful.