Reflections on Graduation

How does it feel now that I am a college graduate? I feel accomplished. Graduating in Communication and Business Administration with a 3.7 was the first big step towards my ultimate career goal. I am excited about the opportunities ahead. There is the Peace Corps, and learning Mandarin, and the chance to apply my textbook knowledge. I am proud. My parents have waited for me to be done with college. Graduating with so many honors is a first in The Family, and my aunts & uncles are very happy for me, too. They expect a lot of good things, and I think I can deliver.

I worked long hours. Much time, money, effort and focus have been put into getting these degrees. I am ready for a new challenge.

Five years ago, I did not know I would be who I am today. Back then, I wanted to become a civil engineer. I aspired to be an executive in Parsons or some other engineering firm. I believed that I could be a CEO. I applied to UCLA and Stanford not knowing how impacted the civil engineering major was. Clearly, I was rejected. I felt rejected. And my self-esteem was shot.

With a supportive push from my high school debate coach and counselors, I was introduced to Humboldt State University. In my first year of college, I wanted to be a secondary school teacher. I double-majored in English and Communication. Going into teaching, I felt that I could do some good by showing other students what I did wrong. That was presumptuous of myself to think I had much to impart on others. But, at that time, I felt that I failed. That was before I read Stephen K. Scott’s Simple Steps to Impossible Dreams.

I remember reacting to Dan Faulk’s Political Science 110 class. I became a socialist, angry at the system that caused me to be poor. I read Marx & Engel’s Manifesto, and sought to criticize the Institution. One evening, back in L.A., I was eating at Denny’s with Kelvin Chin and Mark Mao. I expressed my dedication to socialist philosophy and my passionate dislike of the capitalist system. Mark Mao was the one who pointed out my irrationality. With much concern, he asked, “What’s wrong Kent? Are there money problems in your family?” I said there was none, that I was really just upset with the system. He didn’t press on, but those simple questions were enough to crack the foundations of my immature ideology. I was being reactive. I am poor. I grew up from a disadvantaged background. There were many opportunities that were not available to me because the family was poor. I blamed all of this on the system. This is what people call reactionary. I finally understood what people meant when they labeled socialism as a reactionary ideology. Instead of being proactive and putting effort to improve my situation and the situation of others around me, I reacted by blaming the system. In essence, I whined until someone changed the system to make my life better.

In short, I dropped socialism altogether. I sought to be proactive. I sought to improve my situation instead. So, I got a book: Simple Steps to Impossible Dreams, by Stephen K. Scott. It changed my life.

By my second year in college, I knew where I wanted to go. I wasn’t sure, but I had a pretty good idea. From Simple Steps, I learned how to break down my goals into manageable steps. The first big step was to graduate with a 3.7 and honors. I have met that goal. The second step was to gain managerial work experience. The third was to get a high score on the GMAT, and then get accepted to a top-tier business school, like Northwestern, ESADE (in Barcelona, Spain), or Ann Arbor. [Side note: I have seven years of book-learned Spanish under my belt. I gave it up after having two semesters of it with the same poor professor at Humboldt. If I go to ESADE, its mandatory foreign language program would enable me to speak a fourth language!] These steps, of course, are subject to change. New and maybe better opportunities might arise after the Peace Corps.

Each step has a set of tasks, and as many sub-tasks as necessary. Clearly, this method has worked. I attribute the success and accomplishments that I enjoy so far to this method, so I ought to continue (with improvements).

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