Graduation! AHHHH

I sit here–not procrastinating but reflecting–on the eve before I leave for what will no doubt be a remarkable and memorable weekend in my life. I have been waiting for this moment for years.

I have my packing list jotted down on some paper next to me and I am surrounded by shoes, dresses, pieces of bathing suits and odds and ends from my makeup collection. This means something to me so I wanted to take the time to pen (or type) my thoughts.

My life over the past three years has been a crazy hurricane–much like the current state of my room. My journey began with needing to relearn how to take a standardized test and figuring out math again after having been out of college for about six years. There were sleepless nights and I remember thinking to myself, “This is the hard part. I will pass the GRE and I’ll be okay.” Boy was I wrong! The GRE was the start to the discipline that I needed to get through the next few years of my existence.

There was only one school I wanted to attend. There was only one type of student I wanted to be; a Gator. When I got accepted to the program, I literally balled my eyes out. I didn’t have a Plan B because I only wanted Plan A and I was determined to make that happen. The several months that I spent studying for the test, asking for recommendations and completing my paperwork paid off. The reward was sweet. I was (and am) incredibly proud to be accepted to the University of Florida.

The next two years were filled with more sleepless nights: papers, videos, Prezis, PowerPoints, ads, projects, stats…

At some point, I think I lost touch with friends in the process–to which I apologize greatly. My world became work and then school. I didn’t want to be a mediocre student. I wanted to be the best I could be and I am incredibly proud that somehow during this stretch I made an A in every single class! I hope my friends realize I wasn’t trying to ditch them but this was just something that was really important to me. We have plenty of concerts we now need to go to in order to make up for this time period–maybe we can finally even get to one of those mystery rooms!

Through the ups and the downs–from working, holding an internship, starting my own business and taking classes all in the very same semester–I can tell you without a shadow of a doubt that if I can make it through that, I am capable of anything.

I am so excited to have the opportunity to walk across that stage on Friday night. I’ll officially be a Gator for Life! I am grateful to also be graduating with distinction and part of a national honor society that only selects the top ten percent of graduate students to invite.

Being a grad student taught me a lot about myself. It showed me that life will get really stressful at times and you will have to make sacrifices, but in the end if you really want something to happen… being a Gator means you will make it happen.

From the Swamp in Gainesville, I then travel to the stage for the Ms. Florida Woman United States Pageant. Win or lose, I am a better person because of the opportunity I have been presented with as being Ms. Southwest Florida Woman. I have been changed in the deepest and most sincere of ways through people that I have met.

If you want something, don’t be afraid to go out there and make it happen. My dream of having my master’s degree is coming to fruition after years of hard work. You can make your dreams come true too. I promise.

Hard work. Determination. Faith in yourself. Maybe some pixie dust.

But you can do it.

(PS: This acceptance letter photo is from April 2014… CRAZY!)