Why I chose, and still choose Wayne State
I’ll admit it, I think Wayne State is an unusual place. It’s a large, diverse university that sometimes feels like a very small college, and it’s in the heart of Detroit- which gives the campus a unique pulse.
Coming to Wayne State University in Detroit, Michigan, rocked my world. It took everything I thought I knew, my plans, the person I thought I was suppose to be, and threw all of that caution to the wind, which was the most challenging, and important thing that has ever happened to me. I’m incredibly grateful for it.
The first time I stepped on Wayne State’s campus, I was 17 years old coming on a college tour. It was a beautiful March day. I will never forget it because it changed the entire course of my life. Before I stepped on campus, I had no plans on coming to the university. Once I stepped off, I had no plans on going anywhere else. During the tour, the wonderful art advisors Ryan Standfest and Michele Porter walked a group of us around the campus, hitting “The Castle” (Old Main), which I thought was the most beautiful place in the world. We walked through the different departments such as photography, fashion merchandising, interior design, graphic design, photography, and the drawing and painting studios. Their passion and stories left me feeling excited and inspired. Eventually that day inspired me to take a huge risk, moving to Detroit to study art, at an institution where I knew no one. It’s the greatest decision I’ve ever made.
Despite what most people will tell you, the first semester of one’s freshman year of college can be a pretty heavy time. People don’t tend to talk about this openly. In our culture, college is considered this glamorous, coming of age time (which in certain situations, it definitely is), and I don’t think people like to acknowledge that it’s also filled with struggle, big questions, and that there are a lot of important decisions a person has to make that can totally affect their future, and person they’re going to become. There’s a lot going on, and the pressure is real. Yes, there are parties, there’s pleasure, and there are a lot of beautiful people that you’ll meet, but there are also nights where you don’t know if you’ll make the grade, there’s struggle, and there’s loneliness. My first semester at Wayne State was rewarding, along with being incredibly scary and challenging. Up to date, it stays the heaviest and most important five months of my life. What is so special about it to me is all of the people that came into my life and taught me things that have not only healed past wounds, but also were building blocks in the foundation of the person I was meant to become.
Here is the cliffs note version of some important lessons I’ve learned at Wayne State:
During my first semester at Wayne, I was facing a lot of issues and demons from my past. At many points in our lives, we have to stop and face issues that are staring us in the face, and won’t go away until we deal with them. One of the most important things I’ve ever learned was sitting across from a counselor. We had been talking about an individual who had caused a lot of pain in my life, and she responded by saying “I empathize with him because no one had ever taught him any better.” That sentence was a catalyst for me. It enabled me to accept my past, and forgive multiple people in my life. At the end of the day, forgiveness is for yourself. It is the best way to free yourself from your past. This is a lesson I learned at Wayne State University that dynamically changed my life.
Honesty is the best time-saver. Although the truth is hard to face, we do ourselves a huge favor by facing it head on. After a critique in one of my classes, I went to my professor with a lot of questions and a lot of confusion. By the end of our conversation, he gave me one of the greatest and also trickiest pieces of advices I’ve ever received: He said simply, “find your truth”. Now, I have no magic formula for doing this. I still don’t know how to do it myself. But I will say that a lesson Wayne State has nailed into my brain is when you’re truly honest with the people around you, and with yourself, things start to come together in ways you couldn’t have imagined better in your head.
This lesson goes hand in hand with being honest. I could tell you story after story about the professors, and peers of mine at WSU that have shown up in amazing ways, and we wouldn’t have made the connection if both of us weren’t open and honest about our lives, struggles, and dreams. Be open to the people in your world, you never know what someone can teach you. Sometimes life has incredible gifts in store for you, all you have to be is open to them.
4. The importance of asking for help
This is something I could go on about for days. DAYS. Asking for help is really important, and for the average bear, it’s pretty hard to do. It’s difficult to admit that you can’t do everything on your own. But, as humans we are stronger when we allow others to serve us. Asking for help is an act of courage, and incredibly rewarding. My experiences at WSU have taught me to absolutely ask for help, insight, and ask for it a lot. Whether it’s a guy at the gym who can help you adjust a machine, or a mentor who can help you find direction, asking for help is what connects us, and enables us to grow.
5. “Pain is inevitable. Suffering is optional”
These are some wise words that I learned in the counseling center of Wayne State. If you google this quote, there are a couple of different people who are said to have said it first. Whoever it is, they were pretty smart. What this personally means to me, is that even though struggles are put in front of us, we chose how we react to them. We have a choice to suffer or to be empowered. There are so many stories and reminders of this that I’ve heard while living in Detroit. There are experiences that people go through that are unimaginable for most of us, and yet they come out the other end resilient.
6. Put in the hard work
This is a lesson that is cliche, and really valuable. If you want something, put in the hard work. Talent is something we have no control over, and something work ethic can exceed any day. Don’t depend on talent, work for what you want. I’ve lived by this motto during my time studying art at Wayne State, and it has helped to make my experience very fulfilling.
7. Ask questions
This is so much more important than most people realize. If you want to know something, ask. Curiosity is a virtue. There have been so many situations I’ve been in with incredible professors offering up their time to do open Q&A’s with their students, and I’ve been the only person asking questions. Remember that there are many untapped resources around you, there are lots of highly-intelligent, effective people. Ask them questions, get curious, and you will learn as much, if not more than you would from a textbook.
These are all lessons of mine that have been learned, and cemented in the past year I’ve spent at Wayne State University. I’d like to take a moment to honor all of the individuals that have taught them to me. There have been a lot of amazing people who have come into my life in the past year that I have been very lucky to learn from. I’m incredibly grateful to have had the opportunity to study at this University with such a wonderful staff, and student body. There are many more reasons that I chose, and I still continue to choose Wayne State, but these ones seemed right to write about on this platform. Wayne State University has been an incredible place to grow.
Thank you to everyone who has supported my decision to attend the university, and have also made the effort to check up on me during my journey here. Thank you to all of the advisors, teachers, and mentors I’ve had here, I could not be the person I am now without you. And finally, thank you to all of my friends here, your support and love had been incredible, and invaluable.