The next chapter


Derek Ngwu

As I approach the last semester of my undergraduate career, a wave of emotions and thoughts begin to surface. Sentiments of anxiousness, excitement, worry and focus are at the forefront of my daily academic and personal life. From registering for my first orientation to enrolling in my final college courses, it is only natural I go to reminiscence and reflect on my collegiate journey, and boy where does the time fly? I received my acceptance letter from UTSA in March 2013. Four months later I visited the campus and attended orientation; I got a fresh taste of my home for the next four years. The campus seemed so huge, I felt miniscule in comparison. Everything was new to me from the vibrant school colors, demographics, countless number of buildings to the realization that the safety net provided and comforts of home from my parents and guidance counselors prior to stepping on college grounds was long gone. The environment from Houston to San Antonio was a complete culture shock; it was now up to me to create my own safeguard against possible hardship and adversity.

Self-discovery is a lifelong pursuit. College challenged me in more ways than high school ever did. During my college years, I became more familiar with myself, noticing how complacent and mediocre I used to be. My priorities were disoriented: I procrastinated on completing assignments; I was ill-prepared for exams; I was always absent to lectures which stunted my learning momentum. Instead of being proactive with tasks, searching for internships and talking with my professors, my to do list consisted of binge watching shows on Hulu and Netflix. My résumé reflected my little work experience and pathetic involvement on campus. My ignorance to my major mirrored a feckless reflection on myself.

I made the decision to re-create myself. I quickly learned that studying is not merely about retention but about recognition; in order to grasp the concept of my demanding classes to excel in my coursework, I had to develop many study methods. This usually took place during my sleepovers at the John Peace Library. Attending office hours became second nature; my professors became mentors; their honesty, motivation and support provided clarity during my journey. In hopes of becoming a physical therapist, I landed two shadowing opportunities in Texas (San Antonio’s Momentum Physical Therapy – & Houston’s Pain and Rehab Solutions ) and my love for the profession blossomed. Having the education and skillset to rehabilitate a patient is quite fulfilling. The feeling of gratitude that I gained from assisting others is far greater than any material item. Maya Angelou said, “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

In college, networking is expected; who you build relationships with to expand your network determines the longevity of your business and career opportunities. Joining organizations like The Pre-PT Society, The University Center, i9 Sports and The American Marketing Association connected me with many administrative scholars, intelligent colleagues and student leaders. By further associating from my virtuous circle, my mind enveloped another passion that had been dormant up until coming to UTSA—my love for technology. I developed my first iOS game application this year, although the process was tedious, I was able to execute because of my improved work ethic and discipline. I threw myself into the entrepreneurial world in the final hours of my college career, you truly never know what new opportunities you can embark on.

Success in college derives from consistency and discipline. Steadiness creates competence, practicing great traits achieves outstanding results. Failure is inevitable so embrace the prospect of learning from your mistakes, it’s part of personal development. Ease into a fearless mindset, reach your potential and focus on creating a better version of yourself. UTSA taught me growth is a result of focus; it showed me that the academics of this institution involves more critical thought.

Postgraduate tips:

College is stressful but you have the resources to deal with the trials and tribulations. Feeling rushed is self – imposed for we are still young. There is no rush in graduating just to accept a poorly paid job that you aren’t even sure if you want to do. Be mindful and carefully plan out what you want to pursue. Stop comparing yourself to other people; it is a waste of time. You’re not a failure by contrast because your comrade is doing better than you. Think about it like this: everyone has a different path. You will achieve to achieve at your own pace. You can’t discover who you want to be until you find out who you are. Challenge yourself to get away from the bubble of campus life mentally and physically. Avoid becoming too occupied with your coursework to the point where you burnout. Keep your mind sharp through traveling, not only does it promote good health but it enhances creativity, shifts perspective, and releases stress. Within four years I traveled to LA, New York, Miami and Cancun and traveling to these places changed my outlook on life and motivated me to become successful. The life you have led doesn’t need to be the only life you have.