Graduating and Finding Success Outside of the Classroom

All photos on this page by:  Geneva Patterson

All photos on this page by: Geneva Patterson

It’s a Monday and one day before I graduate with my bachelors degree in journalism and I think that makes it the perfect time to share these stellar photos by my favorite Geneva Patterson and my thoughts on the past two-plus years.

In the past couple of weeks, a lot of people have been asking me if I am excited to finally be graduating from college, and my typical response was usually how I didn’t feel ready. I haven’t really given myself the chance to be confident in my work and “feel ready” for so long that I didn’t recognize how ready I am now, after five and a half years of being in higher-education.

While in high school, I knew I wanted to complete my bachelor’s in journalism at ASU but I had not idea what that would entail, let alone that ASU even had an entire college dedicated to journalism. However, I was certain about a few simple things. I knew it would take me two or more tries to pass anything math related, I assumed there would be many late nights and early mornings, I had a feeling I would cry a lot (both happy and sad), and I hoped that as an adult I would eventually enjoy the taste of coffee.

But I didn’t know I would actually thrive in college and that I would finally fall in love with learning, and essential build a career off of it. I discovered that my main goal in college was to use writing to communicate any intriguing or necessary information to as many people as possible, and that is absolutely true today, on the day before I graduate.

In this last semester of college, I took one online class requiring me to find an internship. Naturally, with my newfound courage that only took 23 years and is still a little rusty, I took on two internships and a part-time job. During this time, I was able to ease myself into the post-college life and focus on gaining even more experience in things that weren’t strictly news writing. I am endlessly grateful for everything the journalism school and it’s distinguished faculty and staff taught me, as well as my passion for news reporting. But I started to see this path as the only path in journalism school and I lost sight of my dreams of working for a magazine with some relation to art.

Luckily, my internships at the content marketing agency and Phoenix Art Museum provided me just the right tools I felt I was missing. These opportunities gave me hope that it wasn’t too late to gain professional experience and that I could still use everything I learned in journalism school to follow my original path. By venturing out into marketing and magazine writing jobs, and without having to be a full-time student, I basically took a much needed break from college.

Before my internships, I started to feel a strange sense of burnout from being a persistent student, but I also didn’t want to cease any possibilities of success. I want to emphasize how badly I wanted and needed this break from the typical college routine, no matter how much I loved being in college, and maybe you or someone you know has felt this way too. After five years of being a full-time student and my most recent semester taking Cronkite News, I was very proud of what I had accomplished but I also needed to recharge. I didn’t take a break from classes by sleeping in until noon and avoiding anything difficult, as tempting as that sounded. Instead, I took on different opportunities that I never thought I would be qualified for and used what I learned in community college and a university to work on some incredible projects. In this break, I realized how prepared I am to move on to this new chapter of my life and that it is possible to feel success outside of college’s walls.

leahASUgrad (99 of 120).jpg
leahASUgrad (65 of 120).jpg
leahASUgrad (98 of 120).jpg

A brief side story:

One of my many college necessities was, of course, coffee. The Grand was the first coffee shop in Downtown Phoenix that I really fell for, and that absolutely kept me awake for the past two years. Geneva came up with the idea to shoot some grad photos there and I didn’t hesitate to visit for the 700th time. The Grand holds a pretty special place in my heart, as silly as that sounds. In my first year at ASU, The Grand was the perfect getaway for my friends and I when we couldn’t find a place to rest on campus. From the many early morning lattes to late night Christmas chais, I probably spent more time there than my actual home. The Grand wasn’t just somewhere to get my caffeine fix, and I know my ASU experience wouldn’t have been the same without this place.

leahASUgrad (108 of 120).jpg
leahASUgrad (118 of 120).jpg

I am excited for what is to come for me and all of the other 2018 graduates. It’s interesting to think that all of my college experiences like writing for hours in coffee shops, meeting countless new faces, and strategically planning the next steps of my education have all led up to this milestone.

Personally, I can’t think of a single reason why I would stay in college for any longer, not even for one more day. That’s not to say I’ve learned everything there is to know about journalism, writing and marketing; but I’ve never felt more ready to continue my education outside of the classroom.

leahASUgrad (94 of 120).jpg
leahASUgrad (46 of 120).jpg
All photos on this page by:  Geneva Patterson

All photos on this page by: Geneva Patterson