- Get your rest.
- Reconnect with family.
- Reconnect with positive friends.
- Fill out applications for summer jobs and internships.
- Check in with your mentor.
- When things get crazy, don’t get crazy with them.
- It’s good to learn from your mistakes, but it’s better to learn from other people’s mistakes.
Dr. Otis Thomas, associate professor and director of BSU-TV, chats with his protege Joseph Battley II, a senior broadcast journalism major, during a meeting in the Department of Communications.
I flew out to Louisville recently to attend an event for my job. On my way back to BWI, a lady sat next to me on my flight and gave me a book filled with short stories. She told me once I’m finished with it pass it on to someone else. I turned to page 8 and read a three-page story by Joel Osteen who shared his advice on how to make dreams come true.
Joel shared this passage, “Keep something in front of you to remind you of what you’re aiming for, and consider it a tangible article of faith. If you’re not reaching your highest potential, it might not be for lack of talent or determination, but because you’re not keeping the right things in front of you.”
He then went on to say, “Where there is no vision, your dreams will die.” This particular passage stuck with me, it made me think about how far I’ve come. I transferred to Bowie State University (BSU) the Spring of 2007, after suffering an horrific head injury while playing football at Frostburg State University. Upon walking onto to campus I was lost, confused. I had no clue where to take my life. I knew I wanted to “make it” but I didn’t know how to do that. A year went by, and as I look back it seemed like my life was at a standstill. I had dreams, just like any kid growing up in a single family home. I watched my mother struggle her whole life, raising three kids by herself. I wanted to be the one to help her, but at that time I couldn’t even help myself. That all changed once I started reaching out to the resources available to me at BSU.
I always had a passion for writing, but I didn’t quite know how to turn that into career aspirations. So I started talking to professors like Karima Haynes and Tammi Thomas. Sometimes I didn’t want anything when talking with both of them, just wanted gain wisdom and knowledge. I was able to share my story and my struggles and they gave me advice on how to overcome those things. I shared with them my love for sports, and they insisted that I reach out to the athletic dept. to see how I could help. From those conversations from forward, my dreams started to become reality.
Before I knew it, I was on campus creating a monthly Athletic Newsletter, which featured BSU student-athletes, game highlights and words from the BSU athletic director. Was the newsletter perfect? No way near. But my dreams were coming to fruition so I didn’t care. From there, bounced back in forth from internship to internship, honing my public relation skills and building up my resume in the process. I the span of one year, I took on an unpaid internship with a small public relations company and interned in special events with the Washington Redskins.
I was flying high when I graduated BSU in December 2011, but I hit that wall like most graduates do. Where do I go next? I was working at a bank at the time and I immediately started applying to any and every public relations opportunity I came across. I would go on LinkedIn and find executives at the companies I was applying to, and would send them messages sharing my expertise and desire to work for their company. I understood the stigma of being an African American male with an HBCU degree, but I was to determined and hungry to let that deter me. I knew my dreams, and no one could take that from me.
Spring 2012, I ended up getting two job offers. One was through a contact I messaged on LinkedIn. The Senior VP for the Washington Redskins offered me an internship with the public relations department for the NFL Draft. The second was a paid internship for six months in communications and public affairs. Five months removed from graduating, and I was working in my field at a top Fortune 500 company. Things were falling into place, and my networking and connections proved to be very beneficial.
Lockheed Martin went on to hire me full-time, while I pursued my master’s degree in management marketing at University of Maryland University College. I was overcoming obstacles daily, monthly and yearly. This past year, I was awarded three awards by Lockheed Martin, for my contributions to the company and for my volunteering efforts in the community. I was also recognized at #19 on the HBCU Top 30 Under 30 list. I was on cloud nine, but I was ready for the next challenge. I still had a dream of working in sports. Fast forward to August 2014, I was offered a position to work with current NFL players in helping them successfully transition to life after football as Player Development Manager.
As I sit at my desk writing this and looking back at my life, I want to leave you with three things that I believe changed my life. (1) Never take no for an answer. No just means there is an opportunity for someone else to tell you yes. (2) Be the best you that you can possibly be. Be eager to learn and perfect your craft. Make it so they have to give you the job, or promotion or opportunity. Utilize the resources around you. And last, (3) Believe in yourself. I don’t care what anyone else says, you can do ANYTHING you want. It may not be easy, it may be some tough days and long nights. But I promise you every tear, every heartache, every drop of sweat is worth it.
Like Joel Osteen mentioned, keep your dreams in bird’s eye view. Turn your dreams into reality, they’re as close as your next opportunity.
Dr. Freddie Vaughns was recently honored by the White House as a Champion of Change at Historically Black Colleges and Universities! Kudos to you for this prestigious honor!
Dr. David L. Reed (’94), assistant professor of history, delivered the keynote address at Convocation today.
Reed recited a list of outstanding HBCU grads who have made an impact around the world, proving the significance and relevance of HBCUs.
“When people question relevance of HBCUs I argue: Yes!” he said.
Starting with the black presence in America prior to the Mayflower, Reed said that blacks suffered under slavery until 1865. There was no expectation that black people would not be anything other than slaves, he said.
However, free black businessmen and Quakers worked together to create schools for blacks. This was an effort that began before slavery was struck down legally, Reed said.
The education of blacks was challenged then as it is now by those opposed to this effort, Reed said.
Bowie State University started in the basement of a black church in Baltimore before moving to Prince George’s County, Reed said. The school started out educating teachers to teach elementary students and later middle school students. Today, the university has grown to nearly 5,400 students.
“The special gift of a teacher is to see inside the heart of a student,” Reed said.
Reed took time to highlight the accomplishments of the nine presidents of BSU.
Regarding President Burnim’s accomplishments, he cited the chief executive’s fundraising, new construction and new academic programs attained under his leadership.
Reed paid tribute to Dr. Carter G. Woodson, the father of Black History Month, as someone who was forward -thinking in preserving black history and culture.
“If you get a paycheck or if you are getting an education at Bowie State University it is because 150 years ago someone was thinking about you,” Reed said.