I am UIC: Looking back at my undergrad years

Michelle Garcia De La VegaIn about three-and-a half months, my college undergrad journey will come to a halt, marking four years of my academic life at UIC. I will sit in a lecture hall for the last time, take my last stroll on campus, leave behind many memorable moments and people, but I will take with me a grand accomplishment. I will have completed the mission that brought me to UIC in the first place: deciding my future and gaining the knowledge and practice I need to create it.

It feels like it was only yesterday that my reluctant, hesitant and insecure self stepped foot onto campus for the very first time, without being able to answer the question every single college student has heard: What is your major?

When I first started UIC, I was as lost as anyone who tries to navigate themselves through BSB for the first time. For about three or four semesters, I dealt with the pressure of those who told me time was running out and that I should know what career I wanted to pursue. I also dealt with my own indecisiveness. See, it’s not that I didn’t know what career path I wanted to pursue. I knew that I wanted to be a news reporter; however, fear continuously kept me astray from working toward my dream job, encouraging me to look for a career elsewhere.

As a child I was always captivated by the professionalism of those who fed my household the daily breaking news and compelling feature stories. I pretended to be Ligia Granados, the weather woman from Univision, reporting the weekly forecast to my family, and in high school I turned projects into news segments where I was an anchor or reporter.

I soon learned that what I attempted to imitate was called broadcast journalism and that above looking and acting professional, there was the need to communicate accurate news and information. So, my eyes began to witness very knowledgeable and smart people, individuals who undoubtedly had years of reading stored in their minds, and possessed excellent writing skills and confidence. All of this only discouraged me. Growing up, I was not much of a reader and I always devalued my writing skills, therefore, I convinced myself that I would not be able to obtain such a job. I held myself back from even trying to take the necessary steps to get there because I feared failure.

Eventually, that all changed. In these past four years, college has taught me that life is not perfect. I learned that we are not born knowing everything and no career path is going to be easy — you just need to try. Throughout my first two years at UIC, I met a variety of people of different backgrounds, views and career goals. I met students who had failed classes, then took them again and passed; students working toward long and arduous careers in medicine and science who sometimes wanted to give up — but didn’t; and students who had changed majors three times but were not discouraged. I realized that life is not solely about success or solely about failure. Life is about trying and believing that you can and that you will.

So, that’s when I asked myself: If I wasn’t going to strive to make my dreams a reality, then what would I do? Would I spend the rest of my life wishing I had faced my fears and at least tried?

As my last semester begins and I sit in my communication and journalism classes, I cannot help but look back at my undergrad years and smile. I’m so proud of myself because I opted for trying. I took this first step toward my career goal, proving to myself that what I once thought I couldn’t do, I’ve actually done considerably well.

With confidence gained in my writing and the determination to improve and keep on moving forward, I’m ready to make the best of this last semester.

Michelle García De La Vega is a senior double majoring in communications and Spanish. Among the things she loves doing most are drinking coffee and laughing. The moments she appreciates most in life involve family, friends, music, warm weather and experiential learning. Her goal is to travel someplace new every year and she aspires to one day be a conduit of news for her community.

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