My education has always been one of the most important things in my life. I grew up with a single mom who demonstrated that working hard and making good choices was a formula for success. Mirroring her responsibility has been the key to my own success. While I did have an adult figure in my life that pushed the importance of education, there were many times that it was left up to me to decide if I was willing to put in the work.
One of the first situations in which I had to hold myself accountable for my actions was when I was just 13-years-old. My mom worked very hard as a nurse and committed to 12 months of an overnight shift. This took her away from home from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. three days a week. This meant that as a young student, I was responsible for making sure that my homework was done and that I was in bed at a decent time. This experience showed me the power that my actions and choices had over my academics.
As a junior in high school I quit the sports I was playing and started working at a smoothie shop. I was in school 5 days a week and then spent most of my free time working. I started as just a team member and began to work my way up little by little. I was promoted to a training mentor a few months later. It was my job to not only get my own work done, but to also manage what new employees were responsible for as they became part of the team. As a senior in high school, I started to spend more hours working and showing that I was a dedicated and responsible employee. I was promoted to a team lead who was the “manager on shift” for either opening or closing time. During these times, I was challenged with things that I had never experienced before. These included: making bank deposits for the store, logging in information on sales into a database, counting tills and the safe, and much more. I spent many long nights at work and then would wake up to be at school by 7:30 a.m. the next day. During this time I struggled some days to self-manage and continue to make school a priority. However, I always kept the goal of graduating from college in my mind to motivate myself.
I am now a senior at Whitworth University, getting ready to move on in my life after this year. During this past summer, I was offered the opportunity to be a teacher’s assistant for a freshman seminar and transition into college class during the fall of 2017. It became clear to me that this is how I could make an imprint on Whitworth before I was done. I am now working with the professor on ways to co-teach the course and make it a place that these students can feel support and love around them. I feel a responsibility to my community at Whitworth to use my experiences from the past three years and help others. My goal for this semester is to make a lasting impression on the lives of these 18 freshmen and be a part of their success here.
There are many ways that one can show responsibility and I believe that I best show it through my ability to self-manage, assist others, and give back to my community. Some days it may be tougher than others to find ways to self-manage and keep pushing, but hard work will pay off. As a college student a year away from graduation, I can see this now more than ever. I now encourage you to reflect on ways that you have shown responsibility, and perhaps a new way that you can show responsibility to yourself, someone else, or your community.
Shelby Adams is a senior at Whitworth University. She has used her academic scholarship to prepare herself well for a career in the field of education. Shelby will graduate in May of 2018 with a Bachelor of Arts Degree, a major in Elementary Education and a minor in the instruction of English Language Learners.