Today is the last day I will be at Wake Tech as a graphic design student. This weekend, I will officially graduate with an Associates of Applied Science in Advertising & Graphic Design. Looking forward, I will be expanding upon this degree at Meredith College with the expectation of graduating with my Bachelor’s in approximately three years.
If anyone had told me three years ago that I would be standing here with my first degree, actual work experience, networking opportunities, and the ability to further my degree and career in a reputable school, I would have laughed myself sick. At this time three years ago, I was recovering from a horrible breakup, I had just lost one of my childhood best friends, and my entire music career had collapsed. Depressed and anxious for the future, I chose to go back to school, and picked my career almost at random. Graphic design was a complete shot in the dark and I had no money or connections. Even worse, going to community college seemed like the end of the world. I wouldn’t have a four year degree, and there wasn’t any prestige attached to what I would be getting. Though I firmly told myself otherwise, there was a part of me that thought, “I’m here because my 20’s were such a train wreck.”
What I didn’t know was that I had signed myself up for a program fully competitive and on par with top senior institutions in the state. My only goal was to graduate and find a job; landing a spot in one of the best private colleges in the state thanks to my hard work and grades wasn’t even on the table! And, to everyone’s surprise (mine most of all!), graphic design became another extension of my artistic self in the way that both writing and music had been in my 20s. Through the graphic design program, I rediscovered my love of drawing, polished my amateur photography skills, learned how to use Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator, and figured out that I was actually capable of talking to strangers. My teachers were tough but fair, and through their instruction, I learned a little something about advocating for myself, and discovered that I was a strong person after all.
Today, I have a professional quality portfolio, actual work experience, and the opportunity to expand my education at a senior institution. Some of this I earned through my hard work and good grades, but most of this is a gift from an institution designed to help struggling individuals, and the teachers willing to work here. Now that I am finishing strong, I can only say that I have become a firm believer in the community college experience. Whatever I become going forward, I know that I will become it because I started here first. Wake Tech is more than just a community college; it is my gateway into the future.
“Be glad, O children of Zion,
and rejoice in the LORD your God,
for he has given the early rain for your vindication;
he has poured down for you abundant rain,
the early and the latter rain, as before.
“The threshing floors shall be full of grain;
the vats shall overflow with wine and oil.
I will restore to you the years
that the swarming locust has eaten,
the hopper, the destroyer, and the cutter,
my great army, which I sent among you.
“You shall eat in plenty and be satisfied,
and praise the name of the LORD your God,
who has dealt wondrously with you.
And my people shall never again be put to shame.
You shall know that I am in the midst of Israel,
and that I am the LORD your God and there is none else.
And my people shall never again be put to shame.”
Joel 2:23-27 ESV