It's hard to believe I graduated exactly a year ago today and let me tell you there are moments when I thought that getting that diploma wouldn't be possible. I thought it was fitting to share my Butler story, one full of challenges, for tonight's post. I know this is a long one, but I promise it's one you won't want to miss. In July of 2010 I was getting ready to enter my senior year of high school and naturally all I could think about was going to college and starting that next chapter of my life. During that month, my family lost our small business. Our only source of income was completely gone, our savings had been used to try to save the company, and we had no idea what would happen next.
Not understanding the full extent of our situation, I grew frustrated when my mom told me she didn't know how college was going to be possible let alone the private university I wanted to go to. I had dreamed of attending Butler University since I was little and had grown up going to shows at Clowes Hall. A big state school just wasn't in the cards for me. I distinctly remember sitting at the dinner table sobbing because my mom and dad told me that they wouldn't be able to contribute much financially.
On December 17th, 2010 the first round of acceptance letters were sent out. On that day, I got home and was getting ready to go to the holiday choir show at when I got a phone call from my brother who was completely in shock. "Steph, I don't know what to do. Part of my pinky finger got cut off by a lacrosse stick at practice." I threw on a Butler shirt (because good juju right?) and went to the hospital to meet my mom and brother. The two physician assistants who worked on my brother that night just happened to be Butler grads.
My acceptance letter came just before Christmas with a small scholarship offer and I was ecstatic. I was going to Butler and I didn't care how, it was going to happen one way or another. I turned in my deposit and started filling out housing information, then came the fun part... how was this going to be paid for?
I met with a financial aid advisor who experienced my entire family breaking down in her office because let's be honest the last year was just rough. At this point, we were now facing personal bankruptcy and my parents were starting all over again (keep in mind they are in their 60s). Jacque in the financial aid office is a huge reason my Butler dream came true. She told us it was possible with loans, but I would have a good amount of debt when I graduated or I could try to work to pay for school to avoid a private loan.
So, my first year at Butler I worked three jobs (one being in the financial aid office) and I was a full time student. To say I was stressed to the max is an understatement but I enjoy being busy and knew I could handle it. During my four years I consistently worked two to three jobs to pay for housing, books, tuition, etc.
At this point it would be easy for me to be mad at my parents, to blame them for not saving enough for college. But no where does it state that parents are obligated to pay for their children's education. And to be honest, I am kind of glad they didn't because it forced me to fully appreciate all of the opportunities I had at Butler and I was the one working for those opportunities. My parents have been and always will be my biggest supporters/cheerleaders even if that doesn't mean financially.
During my time at Butler I had the opportunity to hold various leadership positions, study abroad (I fundraised for that and give thanks to so many people for that opportunity), intern in New York City, and make friendships that I could honestly not live without. Plus, I learned in small class sizes from outstanding professors who actually have had experience in the industry and genuinely care about their students.
So the reason I am sharing this with you is to show you that if you believe in something and you want to do it badly enough, it is possible. One year ago today, I walked into Hinkle Fieldhouse and found my chair for commencement. On it, I found cords which meant I was graduating Cum Laude. Call me boastful, but in this moment I was just completely overwhelmed with pride and happiness. I sat and cried for a minute and reflected on the last four years. Butler was honestly the best decision I have ever made and I could not be more thankful for the people who helped me get where I am today and made my Butler dream a reality.
If you believe in something, go after it with your whole heart and don't let anyone stand in your way.