Invest in Your Future (6:09) – Watch these role models talk about the importance of investing in your future by going to college.
I think it’s so important for girls to pursue a college education because it’s really the best way for young women to realize their full potential, to explore what they’re interested in, to figure out what they’re really good at, and then figure out how to bring that all together as human beings and as women in our communities.
It’s intimidating. You’re moving away from your comfort zone. You’re moving away from friends and family. But let me tell you, it’s rewarding. You get to be so much more stronger, so much more confident, so much more independent. You learn about yourself that you didn’t know you had in you.
I’ve studied education for a long time. We know it makes a difference where you go to school and being able to sort of walk through certain doors. And so for women, especially people of color, college matters even more. It makes so much of a difference. And so making sure that you’re setting yourself up, making sure you find people who are going to help you and push you is so important at every level.
When you have knowledge, nobody can take that away from you. You could buy all sorts of things, a car, house or anything, and it could disappear. But nobody can take away what you know, what you learn. So knowledge to me, and education, is just paramount in anything that you want to do. Study it, know it, and you’ll have it. You’ll have it for life.
To choose a major in college, it’s not easy, but it can be done. With the proper work ethic, with the proper questions being asked, you will find the thing that you love to do. What I recommend is finding a school within your university that interests you. That might be business. That might be communications. That might be art history or even education. Once you find a school that you believe that sort of core curriculum really falls within what you love to do, then I would recommend going to your academic advisers and asking them what are the options. There is no pressure your first year to pick a major. It’s totally okay to take the whole year to really research. Being able to understand what you will be studying for the next three to four years is truly important.
Always remember that it is okay to change your mind. I decided in high school that I wanted to pursue a career in forensic science, but when I got to Michigan State University, I was majoring in chemistry, and I just didn’t know if chemistry was the right degree for me. I actually changed it to math, and then I changed it again to zoology and decided that the genetics route, which is what I was initially interested in high school, was the route I wanted to follow. And there’s many opportunities available for you, so you just have to decide which one is the right one for you.
As you grow, you realize that you’re not just good at one thing, you’re good at lots of things. My mother once told me that sometimes your purpose in life can be determined by the things that you like. So the very things that you like, the very things that you enjoy are often the reason that you were created.
It’s okay to be a little bit selfish. Sometimes, especially in my culture, it’s very family focused, so it could feel a little selfish when we’re leaving the family in pursuit of something that seems a little selfish, like going and study. Working on yourself will have you be a better person that you can come back and work and help with your family. It may seem sometimes that your parents don’t get it, or they’re not being supportive, but understand that it’s also their first time experiencing this. So be patient with your parents, and they generally mean well. I would also suggest that you find good mentors. My mentors were people in my life, like my teachers, that took an interest and that let me ask the silly questions about the application process. So seek help for the things that you don’t know or that your parents can’t help you with.
Any college that you go to is going to be an expense, and there are various ways that you can get money for college. My parents paid for college over a number of months instead of in a lump sum. But there are scholarships that you can get and grants that you can get.
Apply for scholarships, grants. You can get loans, gifts from other people, as well as doing work, study jobs throughout school. And it’s best to do work-study in the industry that you’re looking to pursue so that you have a good idea of what it’s like to have this practical experience and how that fits in with your education.
I worked during college. I worked part time. My very first job was a summer job selling shoes at a Sears store. So it doesn’t mean that you can’t become a doctor if you sell shoes in the summer. I wrapped gifts during the holidays at this store. And a couple of years into college, I got a job at the hot local hospital picking up all the autoclave equipment, and it gave me a link to the medical field that I think was very important as I was going through college.
During your 11th grade summer, spend that time organizing your CV, your curriculum vitae that describes what you’ve done in your life and all your accomplishments and your grades, etc. If you take the time to organize that in a way that other people can read and see how wonderful you are, then you can copy that to all of your college applications. And if you take that 11th-grade summer and go through the websites and look up the requirements for the different grants and funding, you’ll find that there is a lot out there. Don’t give up on what you think you want to do, even if it sounds crazy, even if it sounds crazy, like giving hot chemotherapy to children, even if it sounds like, “Well, no one’s ever thought of that. What do you mean?” Just go for it. Do what you think you need to do in life. Don’t be concerned with the amount of time it takes to get your education for that. Don’t be concerned with how much time it’s going to take you to do that at work or whether you have to be away from your family for a small period of time. Do what you have to do and be confident. Be confident in yourself. Know that you are going to be able to be successful.