Being Fearless and Pursuing Graduate School

By: Paige Cunningham

Think about the feeling when you first wake up from a nap. You feel dazed and confused, not really sure what is going on around you. Now imagine that feeling not immediately going away. This is what it feels like to pursue graduate school, at least for me.

Let’s flashback to my junior year of high school. College had just popped into my mind one day as I was sitting in class. “Oh yeah, I should probably start applying to schools.” I thought to myself. I had toured Stevenson University and I loved it. I could envision myself becoming a student there.

It was my senior year of high school, and I had just got home from field hockey practice. I skipped to the mailbox to get the mail like I always did. I opened the tiny door and saw a big envelope folded over inside. I gasped, because everyone knows what the big envelope means. It was from Stevenson. I dropped all of the other envelopes and ripped the huge one open. I was accepted. At the end of the letter, there was a note that read “Paige, we were so impressed by the improvement of your SAT scores.” This made it so much more personal, and at that moment I was sure that I wanted to go to Stevenson.

Fast forward to junior year of college, I am now a student at Stevenson University majoring in Business Communication. I love my area of study more than words can describe. So many opportunities have been presented to me and I haven’t even graduated yet. I am a social media intern for a local boutique and a full-time student taking 18 credits. Life is busy and hectic, but I wouldn’t want it any other way.

Last semester I received an email with the subject “BS to MS Info Session:Free Pizza” Free Pizza? I was in. I initially knew what BS to MS was. I had read about it on the small signs that were plastered on everyone’s dorm doors. BS to MS is an option that Stevenson University offers that allows students to pursue a graduate degree while finishing their undergrad at the same tuition rate. After the info session, I was in. I thought to myself “I’m going to get my master’s degree.”

Screen Shot 2017-03-27 at 11.35.12 AM
Photo from: Stevenson University


Now I am two months in, and it has been a challenge to say the least. The first week of the first 500 level class that I’ve ever taken, I thought that I was way in over my head. I looked at my classmates’ work and thought that my level of intellect was just not up to par. I knew that I had to be patient and try harder than my best if I wanted to be successful. I voiced my concerns to my professor and she made me feel so much better. She told me that she could tell that I was understanding the material through my work. Although I had been so stressed out the week leading up to that, she somehow lifted it all away from my shoulders.

So here is why this is important: you can do anything you want as long as you want it bad enough, and you must stop being afraid. I know that sounds a little cliché, but it is true. Whether it be trying out for a certain sports team, getting a lead role in a play, landing an internship, you can. If you asked me six months ago if I thought about pursuing my master’s degree I would’ve looked at you like you were crazy. Why? Because that was a scary thought for me. I have learned something though. The moment you stop being fearless is the moment your life changes. You have to ask yourself why you are so skeptical, scared, or doubtful? One of my favorite quotes is “Doubt kills more dreams than failure ever will.” If you try something and fail at it, at least you know it’s not for you, but you will never know if you let the “what if” get in the way.

With my new found inspiration for being fearless, I want to challenge everyone who reads this. I challenge you to do one thing today that you normally wouldn’t, anything. After you do so, evaluate how it made you feel. I want you to feel what I feel when I got my first grade back in my first 500-level class, immense joy. I want to inspire you to allow yourself to do this one certain thing whatever it may be, and see how it makes you feel. Pursuing graduate school was a terrifying thought, but now I know that it’s not because I stopped being scared. Be fearless, and see where it takes you.



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