March 1, 2018 | Thania Cadena

I am a twenty four-year-old and a junior at Sam Houston State University. Was this the plan I had for myself? No, it was not. Many of us have a plan of what our lives will look like when we leave high school. It usually goes along the line of: go to a four-year university, graduate by 22, start your career, find your spouse, travel a bit, have kids, settle down in a two story house with a white picket fence and retire happily.

I graduated high school in 2011 and took a three-year gap period before going back to school. I decided to go back to school August 2014 and felt very out of place at first; everyone was younger than me when I stepped on campus at my community college. I walked into my Biology class and saw an older woman who was in her fifties in my class so I sat next to her. As we continued to have class, I got to know her and she told me about her family, job and life. I learned that she stopped going to school because she got pregnant and put her life on hold for her baby. Now that her baby was older, she wanted to finish what she started to make her kids and herself proud. I was so encouraged and inspired by my classmate, because even though she was out of school for over twenty years she still chose to come back to school to finish her degree. I did not feel out of place after meeting my new friend and knew I was exactly where I needed to be.

Going back to my three-year gap period after high school, I decided to hold off on college and attend an internship for personal and spiritual growth. At the internship, I had the opportunity to attend conferences, travel to different states and meet people around the world. I had the opportunity to serve a non-profit organization and go on a mission trip to Rio De Janeiro, Brazil and Baja, Mexico. Through those adventures, I learned a lot about people, the world and myself. ThaniaBrazil To be honest, I would have moments that I wished I were in school getting my degree but then I would look around and be glad I was travelling and experiencing life because not many get to do it at ages nineteen and twenty. I graduated May 2017 with my Associate’s Degree and I am now at Sam Houston State University in pursuit of my Bachelor’s of Science in Interdisciplinary Studies.

I love my campus, professors, job, and people I get to meet every day. Is this where I saw my life as a twenty four-year-old? No. Do I regret anything? No. I would not trade my experiences for anything because it has made me who I am today. People have different definitions of success and at times it includes money, degrees, and materialistic objects, but for me - that is not success. My definition of success is that I get to do what I love and I am working to get a degree that will open even more doors and experiences for me. What is your definition of success?

"Success is not the key to happiness. Happiness is the key to success. If you love what you are doing, you will be successful." -Albert Schweitzer