Turning Points

Devin Taylor

This semester, I carried 24 credit hours. Twice what full-time is. It’s been fairly manageable, but now that it’s getting close to finals week, I’m really feeling it. Despite the fact that I generally spend the entire day (from sun up to well after sun down) working on school-related tasks, I wouldn’t change it. And I don’t just say that because taking 24 credit hours has allowed me to graduate this semester; it’s forced me to become fully involved at CSU. It also pushed me to take the internship that I’ve filled this semester, which has opened countless doors for me as I pursue a post-graduation career. Looking back, I can remember one pivotal moment in my experience in the CSU Communication Department that had a large impact on the rest of the year, so I’d like to focus this blog post on telling that story.

It was last fall – my first semester in the Comm Department at Columbus State. To provide a little background information, I had spent the previous year studying Spanish. Before that, I attended a college in Kansas (where I was raised) for two years, as a Communication major. So there I was, my first semester in back in a Communication course. Truth be told, I was nervous. Beginning classes halfway across the country with a brand new assortment of classmates was certainly a little scary, but I was up for it. Or, at least, I thought I was.

The first day of classes wasn’t too daunting. In the afternoon on the second day, I found myself sitting in Dr. McCollough’s PR Campaigns class. I didn’t know what to expect, except that it would be “really fun,” in the words of my advisor. It seemed to be going well – until Dr. McCollough started explaining the format of the class. It would be a competitive atmosphere, he said, and we were all to bring our A-games. Come to find out, I’d be competing, on a team, with other students to win in a tough campaign pitch-off: showdown style. The thought of it scared me to the bone. After class I couldn’t stop thinking about how scared I was – quite frankly, of the class. Two days later, a great chunk of the class had dropped, and I told myself not to worry because I would drop it too.

That evening, I made an appointment with my advisor to drop the class. My plan was to find another class, if it wasn’t too late, or even to add another one the following semester (with 24 hours, thank GOD I didn’t go this route). I went about my day as normal, glad to have the weight off my shoulders.

The next day, I arrived at my first class, taught by Dr. Gibson. It was a challenging course and the assigned readings were tough to get through – “a root canal without pain medicine,” as she described it, but she encouraged us to stick with it. It was during this speech that she said something that I’ll never forget – “If your first grade teacher would’ve let you quit because learning to read was scary – and it was – would you have learned to read?” Shocked, I looked around for hidden cameras. I was just sure she was speaking directly to me. How could she have known that I had made my mind up to quit something because it was intimidating?

Needless to say, I cancelled the appointment to drop Dr. McCollough’s Campaigns class. I stuck with it, and it turned out to be one of the most incredible experiences of my life. In the class, I was introduced to the Ferst Foundation and Warren Steele, the local chapter’s Volunteer Coordinator. I would go on to design a winning campaign that initiated an internship position – which I would also go on to fill. Persevering through the scariness got me where I am today: not only have I been incredibly blessed with opportunities through my internship, I’ve also been given the Communication Student of the Year award. I would be lying if I said I don’t feel slightly ashamed to admit that I came so close to dropping a class on the basis of being afraid. Looking back now, I’m so glad I didn’t. I can only hope that this story inspires someone else to push through their inhibitions, too.

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