When I joined Citizen Scholars, I was planning on getting a degree in Mandarin to work in international business. I graduated this past spring instead with a degree in English and a minor in Native American Indigenous Studies. I begin law school this week where I plan to focus on human rights law. I changed quite a bit throughout my undergraduate education, and I owe most of that change to the influence of Citizen Scholars.
CS taught me how important it is to prioritize passion and people in all things, and those priorities were my driving factors throughout the entirety of my undergrad. By my third semester, on the advice of Professor Logan herself, I radically altered my degree path to reflect my passions and not what I thought would be the most lucrative career choice. I realized that I was going to be successful not by measuring the impressive nature of my resume but because I was doing what I loved and that is always when I perform my best. That choice quickly began to change my life.
Suddenly I found myself on stage at political rallies, teaching in high schools, performing poetry on international platforms, studying indigenous languages, and delving deeper into the worlds of the academic theory I love. I decided on not one, but two senior thesis projects because I was interested in so many things pertaining to my new degree path. I sought out people with my same passions, engaging with professors due to my genuine interests and working on community improvement projects with my CS friends after class. I taught poetry workshops on artistic resistance both with classmates, professors, and community leaders alike. I cherished and nurtured the interpersonal relationships these opportunities afforded me and in turn, more opportunities became available. I used my CS funding to explore the possibility of a career in law, taking a position as a legal intern I obtained by reaching out to community attorney’s offices explaining my newfound interest in law and passion for social justice. After a summer spent working in the legal field, I was hooked.
If it weren’t for the CS program and how it challenges students to reflect and pushes students to move into new communities, I’m not sure if I would be anywhere near the place I am now. Citizen Scholars acted a compass to finding my north through both reflection and experience. It inspired me (occasionally by force) to move out of my comfort zone in order to give me really wonderful perspectives on the experiences I’ve had and the ones I hope to have in the future. It connected me to the staff support (and, blessedly, funding) that made a large majority of what I achieved possible, and for that I will be eternally grateful.
As I move on to graduate school, I have direction and an invigoratingly new sense of drive that’s based around my passions and an incredible network of people behind me. My advice to students is always to prioritize passion and people in all things because authentic success will follow.