My academic journey began by planting cognitive seeds. For example, while working a construction job at a local institution in 2015, I observed a computer science team as they would come in to install software and run technological updates. To me, these scientists seemed a bit geeky at first, but I soon realized that their hammers and nails, their saws and tape measures, were in fact computers, computer programs, and logical thinking. The computer science team seemed happy, well-dressed, and well-spoken on the job compared to us construction workers. They used their minds more than their backs. This experience stirred my emotions and my thoughts. I had an epiphany. Virtually every modern nation has integrated computer, internet, and communication technology into its daily operations. This is when I began informal research regarding a college education.
At the end of 2015, shortly after briefly researching academic institutions, I overheard a group of professionals speaking about propositions, trade-offs, and marginal gains. This conversation was in reference to farming and farm animals. As I listened to them discuss propositions out in the open, it suddenly dawned on me that they were conducting high-end business and high-stakes negotiation right in front of everyone. I asked a professional how they attained their social status and they elaborated about university life. For me, this was the straw that broke the camel’s back. This is when I really began contemplating education, and thus, going back to learn more marketable skills.
Just a few weeks after this experience, I was on the phone with my aunt. I mentioned college, and she simply encouraged me to visit the local junior college the same day. This is how my college education began.
The pursuit of psychological studies entered my radar while I was attending Calhoun Community College. Specifically, the introductory course captivated me. As opposed to feeling pushed toward psychology, I felt as if the field had pulled me within its scope.
Calhoun posted weekly internship, job, and community volunteer opportunities for students. During this time, an advertisement seeking volunteers for a crisis-counseling position caught my eye, so I followed up. After a few short weeks in the counseling position, I felt the necessity to more fully understand the human condition through systematic study and decided to pursue a degree in psychology.
There were several reasons why I chose to attend Athens State after I finished my time at Calhoun. First, proximity. The campus is positioned close to my residence, which is convenient and comfortable. Second, while at Calhoun, I met an Athens State recruiter who always expressed congeniality. She seemed personable and patient, and she mainstreamed the Athens State application process. Third, I found the university’s vision and mission statement to be eloquently crafted. Fourth, after completing a tour of the Athens State campus, it felt like a small university with a big heart. Fifth, the university offered a variety of academic studies. Lastly, the student-to-faculty ratio seemed a perfect fit for a high quality education.
So far, my educational experiences at Athens State have been phenomenal. Although the academic and social expectations are a bit higher than junior college, the constructive challenges have prepared me to successfully negotiate the next chapter of my life.
I currently work as a Helpdesk Student Technician at Athens State, but after graduation, I will pursue graduate education. I aspire to assist others toward self-actualization while becoming a catalyst for positive change. Therefore, my ultimate goal is to become a scientist-practioner and conduct research, work with people through biopsychosocial issues, and contribute quality data to the psychological knowledge base.
We are all on the journey toward self-actualizing. I believe, before reaching the apex, we must experience entelechy. In other words, we must have a vision of ourselves for the future. It is a vision of what could be rather than what is. We must believe this vision can manifest and will manifest. On that note, like so many others, I remain climbing toward the apex. The journey toward self-actualization has not been traveled alone. Like any climb worthwhile, it takes a village to reach the top.
Michael is member of Active Minds and Phi Theta Kappa Alumni Association. He made the President’s List in Spring 2020 and Fall 2020, received the 2018-2019 Community Service Award, and the 2018-2019 Award of Excellence. In between semesters, Michael loves to remain sharp by speaking with professionals in the field, reading relevant literature, thinking critically, and writing.
Michael expressed a special thank you to several people who have helped him in his educational journey:
“First, I would like to thank our nation’s service members who have spent their lives protecting yours and mine. Next, I would like to acknowledge my family because they have never given up on me, while holding lofty expectations for my future. Third, I would like to thank the people who showed me that failure can be the greatest teacher. Failure can give rise unto a persistent and determinant climb toward success. Lastly, I will thank all the teachers and mentors, official and unofficial, throughout my life. A very special thanks goes to the administrators, faculty, and staff at Calhoun Community College of whom I had the pleasure to work alongside. Another very special thanks will go to all of those at Athens State, especially the faculty in the Department of Arts and Sciences, including Dr. Brady Rimes, Dr. James Gadberry, Dr. Janet Dorning, Dr. Malcolm Cort, Dr. Mark Durm, Dr. Sarah Cline, Dr. Susan Owen, and Dr. Vanessa Miller. Without all of them, my journey this far would not have been possible.”