On September 8th, I had the privilege of visiting with Hood College and speaking to the Class of 2014 along with many upperclassman who also attended the event.
Hood College has a very special place in my heart because they were the very first school that we competed with in my first college swim meet. After going through all the hardship and adversity in the previous years, to be able to attend college and swim on the team was a dream come true for me. I’ll never forget my first college swim meet because it was such a special time in my life and also in my recovery. It was really cool to receive the invitation to speak at Hood because they were a part of my journey back to life.
As soon as I arrived on their campus, I was welcomed with open arms from the Associate Dean of Students, Ted Chase, who is such a great guy and made me feel right at home from the very start. He gave me a quick tour of the campus and I was then introduced to an amazing group of student athletes who are involved with the SPURS program at Hood. SPURS stands for Students Providing Understanding Resources and it is a peer-mentoring program that connects first year, first semester and in-season athletes with a select group of upper-class athletes who will help the new student to adjust to his or her new surroundings at the college. Everyone was so nice and it was an incredible experience to have the chance to talk to the members of the program because they were such amazing and sincere individuals and the philosophy of the program was very inspiring. At the end of the meeting, I was presented with a plaque that included all the information from my first swim meet against Hood and it really really meant a lot to me.
After dinner, I gave my presentation to the Class of 2014 and I had a lot of fun getting to tell my story and interact with all the students. As a recent college graduate, I felt that I was able to really connect with them on their level and go about expressing how important the next few years of their life will be. I discussed a lot of issues that involved my background, what it was like for me transitioning from high school to college, and what I learned throughout my college career.
The thing that I stressed most was that life is really what you choose to make of it, the more you sacrifice and put in, the more you’ll get in return. And in order to achieve great things, you must be willing to take big risks depending on what the task is. All you have is the present moment, tomorrow is not guaranteed. Never limit yourself and remember that when other people say that something is impossible, that’s just their opinion. It really comes down to a positive mindset. Go out there, set the goal, and be determined to do whatever it takes to achieve it. If you put your mind to something, you can achieve great things.
To everyone who attended the presentation last night at Hood College, Thank You and I wish you all the very best in all that you choose to pursue in your college career and also in life.