Hometown: Inkster, MI
Currently: Just graduated from law school: University of Detroit Mercy School of Law, Class of 2017
Self-described: Loyal, impatient, introverted
Enjoys: Binge watching good shows and movies on Netflix, including Game of Thrones. Also, catching up on the news.
Don't take a break. I've met way too many people who swore they were only planning to take a semester off only to never return.
Tell us about yourself!
I am a first generation college graduate, and I just completed my Juris Doctorate. I'm from Inkster, Michigan and I attended school in the Wayne-Westland School District. Before I began my pursuit of my JD, I worked as a contractor overseas. I was in the U.S. Army Reserve for 10 years. Only one of my siblings attempted to go to college, but they never finished.
Greatest source of inspiration
Not to sound arrogant, but I’d have to say that I was my biggest source of inspiration to graduate. I knew what I wanted to accomplish in the long-term and graduating from college was an important step necessary to achieve those goals.
Greatest source of support
I have drawn a lot of inspiration and motivation simply from watching family members and peers succeed at life in their own respective ways. I always wanted to duplicate that for myself.
Major / Minor
My favorite thing about college was the immediate exposure to like-minded, goal-oriented people from various backgrounds. Given the fact that I was the only person in my family up until that point to attend college, my college campus was my only access to people who understood or who could relate to college life.
Least favorite thing
My least favorite thing was how the school seemingly segregated the students during my first year living in the dorms by grouping races together as roommates and, in some instances, entire floors.
Tell us about a challenge you faced in college. How did you overcome it?
My grades were horrendous at the end of my first semester. It was a very humbling experience because my poor grades made me realize that I had no idea of how to study at the college level.
To remedy this problem, I sought out free on-campus tutors and made adjustments to my studying methods, which included increasing the amount of time I studied for each class. Trying to use the same studying tactics from high school were clearly not working and I had to make a change or risk flunking out, so I did and I saw immediate improvement the following semester.
Did you ever think you wouldn’t make it to college graduation?
No. That never crossed my mind.
What advice would you give to your freshman-year self?
I would advise current students not to take a break from college for any reason, if you can help it. I have met way too many people who swore they were only planning to take a semester off only to never return.
Student loan providers do not care if you’re overwhelmed. If you stop going to school, your loan repayment requirements will likely commence. On top of all that, most of the people I knew didn’t come back because they had a child and that immediately became priority number one. Distractions and obstacles seem to multiply during that “break” period and it’s just not worth it. College is hard enough without you making the experience last longer than it needs to.
Best advice you received?
Don’t worry about what other people might think of you because, ultimately, it really doesn’t matter if you are taking care of your business.
What's your secret for time management and productivity?
I do not like to do anything else until a pending assignment is completed. I hate having a due date hanging over my head. This has helped me knock out all my assignments prior to their due dates fairly regularly. Cramming or writing multi-page papers in one night is just not worth all the stress it generates.
How do you de-stress?
Talk with and/or hang out with friends. Also, I try to lift weights regularly.
The Autobiography of Malcolm X: As Told to Alex Haley
I think this book provides a good example of how a person with no significant educational background can, with the right work ethic, gain the respect and even surpass your peers if you put in the work.
No matter your family’s educational background, you are not the first person ever to be the first in their family to enter college. Many people have done it before you and, with the right focus, so can you.
A few more thoughts:
- Visit professors during office hours often.
- Seek out help from tutors or from other students proficient in whatever subject matter you’re struggling with.
- Never be ashamed or embarrassed about asking for help. No successful person on this planet got there alone, without any help.
- Block out time designated just for studying for certain classes so that you can add more structure and predictability to your schedule. An organized schedule will ensure that no assignment due dates sneak up on you, as they often tend to do for those students who tend to procrastinate.
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