A Strong Community and a Hard-Earned College Degree – Sami’s Story Pt. 2

I know this post is longer than normal, but it’s my story. It is my fears, failures, and successes all written out for the world to see. So please, bear with me as I explain my life and how anyone can succeed in anything they want to. All you have to do is work hard, have a strong community, and believe.

Last week, I wrote about how I was told that I would not be able to attend college due to my low test scores throughout grade school. Well, we all see how that turned out! I proved my teachers wrong and was accepted into the Education Department at Kutztown University!

The Power of Community

This week, I wanted to continue my story about how I made it through college. Just because I had a successful grade school story doesn’t mean college was any easier. In fact, it was difficult. I struggled for several semesters and almost gave up, but it was the power of community that kept me going. My community consisted of good friends, classmates, professors, and family.  I am forever grateful for them!

Attending College!

In August 2011, I stepped through the doors of Berks Hall at Kutztown University and could not have been happier! I did it. I made it to college and was living my dream! First things first, I wanted to make an appointment with the Disabilities Office to make sure they could help me with my learning disability. If I made it through high school, I wanted to make it through college. I wanted to prove to everyone that I would not be in the estimated 44.7% drop out rate. I would succeed!

Stepping It Up

Knowing ahead of time that classes were going to be challenging, I always made it a point to introduce myself to my professors and explain my situation. Each and every professor was understanding and helpful. They said it is always nice when students came up to them right away instead of waiting a day or two before assignments or exams were due. It’s all about being prepared. The Disability Center worked with me as well. I took my exams there and got the help I needed. For me, I needed a quiet room with no extra noises. I couldn’t concentrate if another student was flipping through their test, tapping their pencil, or even coughed. It was all so distracting and anxiety inducing. This is why the Disability Center was amazing. They had distraction free zones and allowed extra time on exams. This helped with the stress and anxiety 100%.

Getting Involved

Obviously, school isn’t all about exams and stress. There are fun parts! This is where I encourage you, my fellow students still in college, to get involved! Through the past 5 years as an undergrad (yes, I did 5 years because 4 was not enough for me), I was involved with several different organizations.

I started my first year with Hall Council. This was probably the best decision I could have made! Through Hall Council I found amazing life-long friends, helped with the 2011 Bloomsburg clean up, volunteered at a soup kitchen, and got involved with Housing. My sophomore year, I became a Desk Receptionist in Bonner Hall. That position got me involved in Residence Hall Association (also known as RHA, where I became vice president my junior year), Hall Council (where I served as the RHA representative for two years), the Food Advisory Board, and the Student Government Board (where I served as a representative for RHA). All of this lead to me changing my major from Education to Communication Studies.

Switching Majors

The Communication Studies Degree was something that I didn’t know existed in grade school. I decided to move to this degree because it fit with what I wanted to do so well. Eventually, I wanted to become a Hall Director and work within a Residence Hall or Student Activities for my career. I loved the idea of housing and everything in it! After switching majors, I discussed this with my mom and realized it was going to be difficult. With a learning and writing disability, I noticed that the communication studies major had a LOT of writing involved. But, with hard work and understanding professors, I overcame my fear of writing and found out that I enjoyed it. For me, writing a paper took longer than for others, but once I started writing it felt so good! The fact that I was told this was one of my biggest weaknesses made me happy. I was overcoming this fear by writing at least a paper or two a week for classes. Eventually I stepped up and picked up two minors. One in Public Relations and the other in Professional Writing. I was on fire! So, I thought:

What if I had listened to my teacher in 8th grade and never attempted college?

What if I missed out on this amazing opportunity of discovering my dream of working in higher education?

Thankfully, I pushed through each year with an amazing community and support system. Without this community, I am not sure if I would have succeeded.

Becoming a Leader

Leadership, to me, is important. With my involvement listed above came amazing leadership skills. Because of being so involved, I had the opportunity to present my “famous” Icebreaker presentation at the Central Atlantic Affiliate of College and University Residence Halls conference, two hall council trainings, the Kutztown Student Leadership Conference, and three times at the Residence Hall Association trainings. I had the opportunity to share and present a fun presentation to individuals in many places, several times. Sharing my icebreaker presentation and watching students have so much fun with it was, and still is, just an amazing feeling.

Graduation Day!

Okay – fast forwarding to that day, you know, the one I never thought I would see. That is the day where I saw the stage at MY graduation. I had made it. I had been through several hoops and jumps and failures and successes. Every emotion was going through my mind right at that moment.

When standing on that stage before handing my card over to hear my named called out, there was a brief but impactful moment. When I say brief I mean really brief. It was two seconds of my life that I would never forget. The room went silent and my heart was racing. I did it. I, Sami Litchert, was about to walk across that stage and earn a degree in Communication Studies with two minors. IT WAS REALLY HAPPENING! And then it did. I became an Alumni at Kutztown University. There is no other word to describe that moment but amazing.  It was amazing.

Today

After graduation I had to figure out my life. Now, I have the amazing opportunity of being an intern at Swift Kick writing blogs and doing a whole lot of other stuff. On top of that, I am a Graduate Hall Director at Cedar Crest College. (This was the dream,, you know, to be a GHD at a University!) I am also continuing my education in Kutztown University’s Student Affairs in Higher Education – Administration master’s program. So not only did I go to college, but now I am continuing in my master’s program and just succeeding in life! I am so thankful to my community for helping me through all of my ups and downs because, let me tell you, my graduating GPA wasn’t amazing. Yet, I graduated and worked my butt off for those brief two seconds I will never forget.

Lesson?

Be you and never stop believing. You can do anything you put your mind to. I believe in you and you should too.

Thank you for reading this and understanding that when life gives you lemons, you have the ability to make a crap ton of lemonade!

Until next time, have an AMAZING day!

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