Time to think about what’s next

Victoria O'Connor, Associate Editor, HeadshotVictoria O’Connor

MANAGING EDITOR

What do I want to do after I graduate?

This is a question I have been asking myself since I first enrolled in UIW in fall 2015.

As I prepare to embark on my last year as an undergrad, my free time has been spent questioning my future. I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do in life at age 18 the day after my high school graduation. And at age 21 this uncertainty has not changed.

With graduation in 2019 and a wedding in 2020, 2018 has been a year of reflection. It wasn’t until I had a heart-to-heart with my fiancé, Matthew, that I realized where we were completely different from where we wanted to be.

“Are you sure business is the right major for you,” I asked Matthew after hearing about his day at work, knowing his father’s expectation was for him to one day take over at a corporate level at his job. His response was, “No, not really. If anything, I should have studied engineering; that’s something I enjoy. What about you? What is it that you want to do?”

And with that question, it suddenly hit me. Am I in the wrong concentration? Better yet, am I in the wrong major?

These questions left me confused and terrified, but surprisingly relieved. Journalism did not have to be my career. Graduation did not have to be my final step into the working world.

I jumped head-first into the world of journalism at the age of 15 by working as a staff member with The Quill, Pleasanton High School’s student newspaper. It was from there I eventually found myself with the Logos, working my way up from a workstudy to managing editor. I dedicated so much of my time and energy molding my knowledge of journalism that I never actually asked myself if this was the profession for me.

Six years later and close to graduating, I find myself just now making this realization. But where do I go from here?

Journalism has played a huge role in shaping me into the person I am today. I found the activist, sports fan,
and pop-culture enthusiast within myself by vicariously living through the people I interviewed and the stories I covered.

By no means have these years been a waste. If I spent my four years with nothing but a piece of paper stating I graduated from UIW, then that would be a waste. But so far, I have learned through many opportunities, gained new experiences, and watched my fellow peers grow and finesse their skills within the professional world. I
consider myself blessed!

This year, my goal is to learn as much as I can about journalism, communication arts, writing and myself. I want to be able to walk away with a greater appreciation for journalism than I did before. I want to express this chapter of my life with the same enthusiasm I know I will have when moving on to my next chapter.

So, to all my fellow returning Cardinals, welcome back. Know that is never too late and that you are never too old to grow and learn new things. To all the newer Cardinals coming into the Nest, welcome home. Make the most of every opportunity and know you don’t have to have it all figured out right now. Enjoy the ride with every bump and milestone ahead.

Uncertainty can offer the most clarity and offer new optimism. This year is going to be both exciting and terrifying. I may not know exactly what I will be doing after I graduate, but I know it will be worth the journey and time spent studying journalism at UIW.

E-mail O’Connor at voconnor@student.uiwtx.edu

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