As I finish out my last year at Kent State, I am reflecting on my time at the place I called home for the past four years.
On May 14th, 2022, I, Mai-Ling Francis (she/her) earned my Bachelor of Arts in English and am an official alum of Kent State University. I am leaving with both my bachelor's and associate degrees, as well as being the first in my family to graduate college. Coming in my first year, I was an ASL/English Interpreting major who was too shy to sit with someone I don’t know. Leaving eight semesters later, according to my Myers-Briggs, I am 98% extroverted and will give a smile and nod to anyone who crosses my path.
I have been extremely lucky to have the experience I did. I commuted all four years but had the opportunity to get very involved and make a place for myself through different programs and offices. I am leaving with people who have helped me find myself and my passions, and will be there for me for the rest of my life. Looking back as I was deciding between schools, something about Kent called my name and I was greeted with open arms when I attended my Destination Kent State in 2018. Choosing Kent was one of my best decisions I could have made for myself. There was never a time I did not feel supported through both academics and my extracurriculars.
One quote I carried throughout my entire experience and shared was this: Don’t be afraid to be a beginner. Going to a school only 25 minutes away from my hometown offered to be easier than moving hours away, but it was still a new experience. As a beginner, you fear the mistakes you will make and the impression you will leave. To whoever is reading this: embrace it. Take hold of the mistakes you make and grow from them. Let yourself try new things, mess up, achieve, cry, laugh, scream and everything in between.
College is such a pivotal time in your life. You can’t let fear be the one to stop you.
If I would have let fear stop me from applying to be a FlashGuide in 2019, I would never be in the place I am today. In the fall of 2022, I will be attending the University of South Carolina for my master’s in Higher Education and Student Affairs. While I am there, I will be serving as a graduate assistant in the Leadership and Service Center. All of my experiences have led me to where I am today. By allowing myself the space to try, fail and try again, I know who I am and what I want to be.
Kent State and its people have helped me understand my purpose and passions, as well as letting me leave the place I love most without any regrets. Walking across the stage and being surrounded by the people I love most, Kent State will forever be the place I look to when I need to remember who I am. The Flashes took care of this Flash and I am forever grateful.
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