Taking on a fifth year

Graduation this past Sunday, May 6th, was an incredible experience. The 126 out of my required 124 credits on DegreeWorks says I should have been down there with my cap and gown on, but my college adventure requires a fifth year of me.

After getting a head injury my freshman year of college and with the help of being on disability, I was only allowed to take 12 credits a semester. I then took on a minor which added more classes and got a second head injury my sophomore year of college that made me have to drop all but two of my classes which I barley passed.

In the fall of my junior year I wasn’t sure if I was meant to be a communications major with a photography minor so I switched it up; I became a photography major with a communications minor. As I struggled through the semester I found my calling in college was what I was doing before, so I changed back to a communications major with photography minor. With this important realization I did lose that semester as well.

This is where all of my credits are fulfilled but my class requirements for being a communications major and photography minor are not.

As I have struggled to come to terms with being a fifth year and watching most of my friends graduate my junior year and then this year – my senior year – I have realized my journey has not been normal, and that’s ok.

My neurologist told me when I got my second head injury that I should drop out of college for the time being and try again later on in life if I was meant to go to college. I knew that if I didn’t fight to stay in college now, I’d most likely never do it. So I put all my effort into healing and being as positive as I could and decided to stay in college despite having two head injuries.

It’s been anything but easy. However, with the determination to not fail and to do the best I can do every single day, I have been able to stay a student at the University of Dayton.

So, as I watched my roommate of four years graduate this past Sunday, I thanked God for the opportunity to be able to persevere through all of the challenges I’ve faced in college. It’s taken enormous amounts of tutoring, meeting with teachers, and telling myself that my best is enough to not give up.

What I’ve really learned through all of this is that perseverance doesn’t mean you only make it through tough situations, it means that you take on every struggle you face with determination to let that struggle make you stronger and be the best version of yourself you could ever be. Perseverance is knowing you could stop and everyone would understand, but not giving yourself that choice because you want to know what it’s like to at least try and make it out of situations that seem impossible.

So even though I get a little frustrated when I go on DegreeWorks and I see that I do have enough credits to graduate, I remember my journey and how hard I’ve fought to get to where I am. It’s not about how long it takes you, it’s about how proud you are of where you started and your ability to persevere no matter how small or big your struggle is. 

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