Turning a Page

I cannot believe that this summer is just about over and that fall semester will begin next week!  With the ending of summer comes the completion of my summer internship at the National Forum.  This experience at the National Forum was a positive one that allowed me to use my skills in administration more definably throughout the summer.

One experience that had been afforded to me during this internship was connecting with graduate students working at the Forum.  This connection with graduate students is critical to me because, after undergraduate school, I would like to continue my higher education towards graduate school.  Being a first-generation student means I don’t have the advantage of speaking to my family about my next educational steps or to even gain academic insights.  I believe being surrounded by positive influences, such as graduate students, allows my mind to accept that graduate school can be obtainable by me.  It may sound silly that half the battle is envisioning myself in a particular space, role, or position, but it is half the battle for me.

Not knowing what my academic future holds for me is unnerving, to say the least, but having strong, successful Latino graduate students surround me is encouraging.  Many of these graduate students are first-generation students themselves who have paved their own story of academic success. – I find this beyond encouraging.  Encouraging because I can see individuals doing what my heart desires – graduate school.  Seeing them allows me to create a success narrative of “I, too, can be successful as a graduate student.”

I hold a lot of fear towards my academic journey because I’m the first one in my family pursuing higher education.  Being the first to attend higher education is both rewarding and discouraging.  Rewarding because I am changing the narrative in my family for generations to come; discouraging because I don’t have academic touching stones within my family – instead, I must actively seek out my own educational touching stones through professors, academic advisors, graduate students, etc.  However, I am blessed to have some amazing mentors in my life that continue to encourage me throughout my uncharted academic journey.

This summer internship was more than an internship but a reflection of where I am headed for my next academic journey.  – And for this insight and encouragement, I am thankful.

One thought on “Turning a Page

  • August 30, 2018 at 8:28 pm

    Wow, what a summer experience! Congratulations on wrapping up your internship at the National Forum! It’s clear that you’ve gained so much through your experience, and that through your reflections, have really pushed yourself to identify the skills you’ve gained and built.

    From managing the New Leadership Academy event (that did sound exhausting! And awesome to meet up and coming leaders), to meeting the challenge of tedious work, to gaining perspective from your fellow colleagues about next steps, this summer sounds like it’s been really meaningful in building relationships and a support system.

    I’m curious, in what ways do you see yourself as a leader from your work this summer? So many of your reflections speak to leadership skills — I wonder if you noticed that too!

    I get where you’re coming from on the challenge of handling repetitive or tedious tasks. There can be a fine balance between being driven by the purpose of an organization, and sometimes feeling swamped by work that isn’t especially motivating. Do you feel like you saw more of these tasks given your role as an intern, or does this knowledge of administrative work shape what you might hope to engage with in the future?

    I’m inspired by your recognition of the need for working for a larger purpose and having challenge in your role! I like your term “mind labor” as a way of describing types and complexities of tasks. I hope that your work brought you a fair amount of mind labor, despite managing strategies to handle some of the less exciting work.

    I hope you share that appreciation with your colleagues who greet you so warmly each morning! They’ve helped to shape such a positive experience — and it’s not luck that brought you to your internship — your drive, experiences, and strengths are the reason you were selected. Know that your colleagues value your work, as much as you value the environment they created.

    Thanks for sharing your future plans for graduate school, as well as your honesty in the challenge of seeing yourself in that space or others. You’ve come so far, and as you noted, blazing a trail that is not simply laid out for you. Building a network with your grad school colleagues, and connecting with campus resources — know that we are happy to help! We have a workshop coming up this fall about preparing for the grad school search/application process, so keep an eye out!

    Congratulations on a reflective and meaningful summer experience, Julia!
    Thanks for sharing,


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