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Graduation Day 12': I finally did it

Last week on Friday I finally graduated.  After nearly 5 years of unbelievable toil, filled with seemingly insurmountable obstacles and an impossible internship I finally graduated.  I not only graduated, but I graduated Magna Cum Laude.   My graduation was a bold testament to perseverance, dedication, and courage.  As I reflect on that great day here are some of the lessons that I learned while at college:

1) Through Christ Anything Is Possible.  I remember clearly during my third semester when I begin to date my wife how I had serious doubts about being able complete my education while marrying her in the process.  In my foolishness I even told her that the decision was between her and school.  Thankfully, she didn't leave me, she just told me to pray and 4 years later I am married and I have graduated.  In my smallness (lack of faith) I couldn't imagine being able to do both. But I guess with the Lord you can have your cake and eat it too!

2) I learned the value of effective time management and organization.  College thought me about the importance of organizing my time around priorities.  As a commuter, and part time employee I didn't have too much time at my disposal.  College taught me to make the most of my time, no matter how limited.

3) I learned how to work effectively with diverse people.  Prior to making the decision to attend Montclair I knew that I would be attending an institution that was radically secular and liberal.  Despite this I had to forge productive working relationships with people who I vehemently disagreed with.  Much to my surprise I did really well working with these people. My goal was not to get the other side to agree with me philosophically, my goal instead was to create a project that was the best fusion of differing viewpoints.  This is a skill that will help me throughout my personal and professional life.

4) Make Friends Out of Your Professors (Especially those whom you like least)  I learned how to communicate with my professors during and after class.  This was invaluable- especially for the classes that I struggled with.  I realized that the professors were more than willing to help me.   

5) Learn to say "No" a thousand times.  College taught me the indispensable lesson of delaying gratification.  I had to learn to say no many times to attractive distractions.  This was very difficult especially during my first semesters, when the goal of graduation seemed so distant.  Distractions were everywhere, but I had to keep my eyes on the prize and the way I accomplished that was through saying no a thousand times.

6) Stick to your goals.   There were many times when I was tempted to quit.  The only thing that kept me going was my dedication to getting the diploma.  I even visualized how the diploma would look before I received it.  I did anything to keep me going. 

7) Learn to Trust Your Gut.   Prior to College I had heard that phrase a million times, but in college it became a reality.  Whenever I would get an idea or an inclination I would act on it. On the flip side, if something didn't "pass the smell test" I ran from it.  This helped me to trust my instincts. 

Ultimately I learned much more then these 7 principles.  I have had hundreds of life shaping events throughout my tenure as a student.

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