Keep Moving Forward

It’s been four years since I first arrived at Nipissing University and I don’t think there are any words that better describe my experience than “life changing”. I can’t say every step of the way was rose petals and rainbows, because it wasn’t, but what I can say is that I have met some incredible people who have positively impacted my university experience more than I could have ever imagined.

Looking back on memory lane, I was a different person entering university than I am now, and that I was a month ago. Reality is, people change. The change may not be drastic, but it is the small changes that someone realizes once they are challenged in their life. Trying to think of the specific reasons behind those changes was difficult for me to identify at first, but after some reflection I can confidently say that my family, friends, university staff and faculty played an influential role in my life transformation.

I was considered extremely shy entering university and Nipissing University truly helped me come out of my shell through a variety of ways. Whether it was receiving positive feedback from professors, small class sizes that allowed me to openly communicate with my classmates, the different extra curricular activities or simply the friendliness of every member around campus. Not only did these diverse encounters assist in the development of who I am, but they allowed me to seek new experiences as a result of the connections and accomplishments I have been able to make along the way.

When entering university, students are able to determine what they wish out of their overall university experience. For some that may mean staying up until 2 a.m. to make sure they know every last note of a textbook before the final exams and for others that may mean being a frequent member of North Bay’s night life. Either experience will be unique, but it will contribute to how you view your overall time at university once you have walked across the stage at convocation and accept your degree.

Being challenged wasn’t always the easy way out of any scenario, but it was the chance for me to take an opportunity and either strive or fail. It is true that I wasn’t always happy with the challenges that I was assigned, but I seized each opportunity as a chance to learn something new and accomplish something that I had never done before. Acting safe and comfortable never compelled me to rise to the occasion; however challenging myself allowed me to grow socially, emotionally and academically.

Reflecting on this topic led me to ask myself whether I challenged myself enough and whether I am challenged by the people I spend time with. Looking back at my experience at Nipissing University (thus far), I can conclude that I was constantly placed in situations that challenged who I was as a student, both academically and socially. At times, this led my experience to be extremely busy and hectic at times, but overall, worth every minute. By being challenged by others and challenging myself I have been able to conquer goals that I have set out as well as complete tasks that I never thought were manageable. To many, this would sound like an uncomfortable experience and to others it can be understood as an exciting challenge. Facing these diverse challenges allowed me to learn more about myself and continues to challenge me in many ways. Yes, I was nervous at the beginning and being scared isn’t always a bad thing. It helps get the job done and opens doors you may have never thought could be open. However, throughout the journey, I was able to take time for myself and enjoy the little encounters that meant a lot to me.

Over the past month, I have had the opportunity to be in contact with recent graduates at Nipissing University as well as new upcoming Lakers. Although these two groups are at different milestones in their lives, I found that there was a common theme between them- anticipation and excitement. Both groups were eager to note what their future has in store and what their next step will be and yet again, future challenges that they may encounter.

For new incoming students, it may seem more noticeable – they are beginning a brand new chapter in their lives as Nipissing University students. They will be provided with multiple opportunities to be able to interact with both academics and social opportunities. Yet for the graduates, they are either off to an inspiring role in the field that they have been imagining or unemployed and not really sure where their path will be leading them. However, both of these groups are facing new challenges, some they would never expect to have encountered, but it is an exciting process.

We immediately associate the word “challenge” with more work, more energy and this is one of the last things we want to do when we want to have an ‘easy’ day. Yet, the benefits we receive from being challenged, whether they are at work or in our social life, help us grow and realize more about who we are and will become. Of course being forced into a new environment whether that is for incoming students, graduates or current Nipissing University students brings forth many challenges. These changes affect how you go about each challenge in shaping you as a strong individual and assist you to realize more about life. My advice to incoming students is to use the services and resources around campus to make your experience more than what it can be and to challenge yourself to find out more about yourself and develop future aspirations.

The more you challenge yourself and succeed, the greater your confidence in your ability to do it again next time. Challenge doesn’t just help you develop your skills and knowledge; it helps you to grow and believe in yourself.