Joining a sorority, making new long-lasting friendships, spending countless hours cramming for midterm, showing your school spirit during a highly intense sporting game are some of the joys of college. While some students are occupied with "living in the moment" and partying, others are looking to make an impact that will lead them into a future career.
Recently, I started a female empowerment day camp at my college. It has been a dream of mine for quite some time -- three years to be exact. You may ask, why did it take me so long to fulfill my dream? Well, midterms, final exams, 15 minute presentations, group projects, working part time, hanging out with friends and spending hours getting tutored in college algebra got in my way. I know you may have thought it was because I was being lazy or, for a better way of putting it, unproductive. Well, at times I was, but that's not the point.
During my early college years, I was only concerned about making the best grades and pleasing my professors, instead of enjoying my college days in the way that I wanted to. So recently I decided that I was going to take time to myself and just do nothing and think. Yes, think! Think about all the dreams and goals that I have. What do I want to achieve by the time I graduate from college?
Last year, my younger sister and I wrote down ten goals that we wanted to accomplish before we graduate college. Some of my goals included studying abroad, learning a new language, participating in a fitness class or activity, starting to research graduate schools and applying to some, learning how to surf, writing and publishing a non-fiction book, completing a goal that I have been putting off and becoming a better cook.
With my goals set, I glanced at my list and placed it in my binder. I then wondered, why did I say that I wanted to learn how to surf? I can't swim and the sharks might eat me in the deep blue sea. Fitness class: does walking to and from my classes count? I then realized that I was coming up with nothing but excuses. Excuses aren't going to help me get any closer to my goals.
From that moment on, I began working towards accomplishing my goals. About two weeks after we constructed our goals list, I walked into the student center at my college and I saw a flyer that said, "Want to get in shape, and want to learn how to live a healthy lifestyle." Was someone playing a joke on me? Was this flyer real? Is Ashton Kutcher around the corner waiting to "punk" me? To my surprise it was real, no joke. The flyer was advertising a 5k running group. To make a long story short, I signed up with a friend. We ran and trained for three and a half months and I crossed the finish line in a 5k race. Mission accomplished!
I couldn't believe that I actually did it! Usually, the only time I'm running is if a dog is chasing me or I'm running to class in the hopes that I'm not late and my professor doesn't lock me out of class. With one goal crossed off, I was pumped and ready to complete another one. I glanced down the list and circled "complete a goal that I have been putting off." The first goal that came to mind was something that I had only fantasized about doing. That is starting a non-profit organization or community program.
I have always wanted to start a program in my community towards helping and mentoring low-income students go to college and youth empowerment. This was the time to do it, and I didn't want to push it off any longer.
January 2012 was the time when I began working towards my goal. With the help of my school's campus counselor, college buddies and professors, I founded W.I.S.E (women inspiring success and empowering) Girls female empowerment day camp at my college. The camp was held on Saturday March 31st.
The camp mission is to empower, inspire and educate girls on topics that we as women face or deal with, such as body image, leadership skills, health, fitness and discovering what we are passionate about. We had 27 girls from the local middle and high schools register for the camp. The campers participated in workshops throughout the day along with fun social activities. We had a blast! All the campers and staff enjoyed it.
Once again, I was surprised and proud of myself for accomplishing another goal. It felt so good to take a break from studying for class and fulfilling one of my goals and dreams. Yes, college is about having fun, however it's also about working hard and taking on new ventures that will have a long-lasting impact on yourself and others. What more can I say but mission accomplished.?
I know you are thinking, what's next for me? Now, I'm going to start working on traveling around the country and writing and then publishing my first non-fiction book. Wish me luck!
Follow Catherine Okafor on Twitter: www.twitter.com/@ABCsCollege