My college experience has been anything but traditional. I almost reflect upon the experience as the definition of untraditional. What I have gotten out of college has not been what I originally wanted, but it has had meaning, nonetheless. It has consisted of mostly aspects I did not originally anticipate, while simultaneously giving me everything I have needed, including a place of growth and grounding.
At first, I wanted to go away to college, but I found myself not ready. I wasn't prepared to move away to college and found myself gravitating to the calling of serving my community in various ways. So, I stayed home. Since the later years of high school, I had been working on starting businesses. Entrepreneurship has always been a passion of mine. I also began working for my local fire department as an on-call firefighter during my senior year in high school. Not going away to college gave me the opportunity to truly foster my entrepreneurial spirit, while serving my community in many ways. From here I began a year and a half journey with community college, first at White Mountain Community College, then at Lakes Region Community College. I was able to begin my college degree while saving some initial money. It also helped me learn the beginning ropes of what college courses were. Although not everything was fully applicable, I took some great classes that gave me the discovery to understand where I wanted to go with the future of my degree.
This is where I stumbled upon Plymouth State. I never opened my mind to the idea of attending PSU before this time because it was one of the closest universities to my town, giving it some added stigma. I went to Woodsville High School, and we often joked about how PSU was the Woodsville of colleges because of size, proximity, character, and all the alumni that attend it. But when I looked at Plymouth this time around and discovered they had an interdisciplinary studies major, all stigma was gone, and I believed it could be a great fit for me.
I was attracted to the ideas of interdisciplinary studies because I knew I wanted more out of my education, including a personalized approach that was not limited in the classes I was able to take. I wanted to study entrepreneurship, but knew I wanted the approach to be hyper-local, sustainable, and diversified focused. I came up with Sustainable and Diversified Entrepreneurship. These fields fit well together and coexist with what I plan to do throughout my life. This was my search for a real and practical education.
In a world that is ever changing, one thing that remains the same is the instinctual connection that we have with the natural world. Business should be focused on nurturing this connection. This is where sustainability comes into play. It should be a business’s key responsibility to take sustainability seriously and make it a priority in all that they do. Without sustainability we lose our connection to our roots. Sustainability also holds another important meaning in my major. If a business is not able to sustain itself, via keeping its doors open or making a profit, then it is instead a hobby and not a business. Sustainability in this sense needs marketing, finance, and management skills to succeed. Then, a business and its operators need to be diversified to handle upcoming challenges, achieve expansion, and plan for what is next. Diversify is a verb that means to make or become diverse or varied. A diversified entrepreneur is proficient in more than one skill set. This idea embodies the ideals of interdisciplinarity. Lastly, I have worked to view these aspects through the lens of an entrepreneur. The world of entrepreneurship is much different from the world of business. By viewing ideas in the scope of entrepreneurship you are starting from the beginning and often from scratch.
I have done my career differently than most students in college. I commute to school, have spent countless hours starting a drink business called Yeoman Brewing Company, and work as a prevention specialist at a high school. Starting a business is something that most don't do until they are out of college, but I am doing it now. Although this has compromised some of my college experience, it has put me on the career path I want to be on. I have not always wanted to be a commuter student and I don't always enjoy it every day, but it has worked great in my career.
I have gotten so much out of college as it has not only educated me but has been a true tool of discovery and passion. I have discovered that I want to be a lifelong learner. I would like to take my education in many different directions if the future has that in store. Options include getting my MBA, furthering my study of photography, and maybe even a doctorate degree. Only time will tell!