By Olivia Chamberland, MPH

Caps and gowns are all put away, goodbyes have been said, and celebrations continue…you have reached your goal, you have graduated…. But what now…..

Some of you already know what you are going to do, go on to graduate school or some form of higher education, maybe you’ll take some time to yourself to travel or relax, and maybe you already have an internship, or a job lined up. But you still can’t help but feel a little sense of sadness mixed in with the nervousness of the unknown aka the future. Afterall you just spent the past years studying, living on your own in a dorm room surrounded by a group of girls you called family. It was your home away from home.

Now you are on your own ready to take on the big scary, exciting world ahead of you, and you know what? You are going to do great things; you just don’t know it yet. How do I know? Because I have been there. I was in your shoes.

Growing up the plan was to get good grades, go to college, get a degree and graduate, but the plan stopped there. Why? Because it was up to me to figure out what after looked like. I had a tough time finding my footing and making my own path. It was a struggle trying to find a job right out of college. Some jobs required so much experience I should have started preparing when I was 7, or they required an advanced degree that I did not have. If I did land an interview, I was so nervous half the time, that I am surprised I remembered my name. There were a lot of tears when I did not get a job, and each rejection took a hard blow to my self-confidence, and it took on toll on my mental health. I felt lonely without the sorority, and feeling like I was apart of something. I felt like I was not good enough. But living at home with my parents helped a lot. They supported me and reminded me that I will get to where I want to be, and that I am good enough, I just have to be patient. I also started to see a therapist when I felt my mental health was starting to bring me down.

Looking back now, I am glad that I lived through it. I learned from my mistakes, and I learned what worked and what did not work. I tried, failed, and tried again, and through all this, I became resilient. Eventually, I got a temporary job at a health department as an administrative assistant. It wasn’t the dream job I wanted, but it gave me the experience I needed for my resume. That job eventually lead to another job, and before I knew it I was moving up the latter to my goal job. Through each job I met new people who challenged me and helped me grow. I learned new skills and found out what I wanted in a job and what I did not. I even learned stuff about myself that I did not know such as I really like to think outside the box and be creative.

Fast forward 6 years (it goes by fast my friends), here I am engaged to be married, a Master of Public Health graduate, a Regional Emergency Preparedness Coordinator, living in a beautiful apartment, and a dog mom. I am confident in my skills and abilities, but still open to learning more.  

I hope my experience helps you as you prepare to take on the world. There will be growing pains along the way, but that is normal part of getting to where you want to be. Opportunities are going to come up when you least expect them, and it is up to you to take a chance on them or not. In the end all that matters is that you are happy, healthy, and thriving. And when life gets you down, remember you are never alone, you have a whole sorority behind you cheering you on. Do not ever feel ashamed to reach out for help, or support, that is what sisters are for. Now get ready world because here you come!