USI: more than an education

Zane Clodfelter

In the fall of 2008, I stepped onto this campus unsure of what awaited me in the next journey in life.

Like many, my journey to an undergraduate degree has taken a little more time – five and a half years to be exact. But as that journey nears completion, I have an appreciation for those who have made an impact on me – impacts so great that I will remember them and take those lessons with me wherever I go once I leave campus for the final time.

To say the least, it’s been a hell of a journey.

Instead of jumping into studies and making a name for myself in the classroom, I created a crater that seemed impossible to escape. Before I could realize the magnitude of my mistakes, I was standing at a crossroads on what I was going to do with my life.

My parents helped me stay an Eagle in so many ways, sacrificing their hard-earned dollars so I could stay in school and prove that the past mistakes academically were simply an error in my horrible judgment. I had lost financial aid, and without their support, would have certainly been a college dropout.

The second chance at a college education was the greatest gift my parents have ever given me. From the moment they showed their commitment and faith in my abilities to turn it around, I was determined to make the most of that opportunity and prove them right.

My parents weren’t the only ones who were willing to give me that second chance. Wayne Rinks, chair of the communications department, allowed me to take classes immediately despite my academic standing within the university.

From the moment I stepped foot in my first class after my meeting with Dr. Rinks, I had a sense of pride in this university that I didn’t experience when I first stepped on campus. This university had faith in me, and I knew it. Despite my errors in judgment, the university allowed me to prove my true abilities.

I was able to establish student-professor relationships where I felt comfortable asking questions and wanted to expand what I learned in the classroom and use it in other situations.

Given a second chance, I wanted to be involved. I wanted to make the most of my second opportunity. I started working at The Shield, and The Shield is one reason why I consider USI a jewel of public universities.

Had I gone to a bigger university, I would have been cast aside after my mistakes. But at USI, it was different. I wasn’t just another person who wasn’t cut out for college. The university gave me one more chance when it would have been easier for them to shut the door.

I was given one-on-one treatment that allowed me to better understand the things that I needed to learn to take with me into my field. While this university may be big in enrollment numbers, you can still get that personal instruction that has gone missing in a lot of public institutions. Even if you aren’t a journalism major, you can find things on this campus that will add to your educational experience. You just have to look for them.

If you feel you have come to your crossroads, reach out to your advisor or department chair. As I learned, it doesn’t hurt to reach out to them and see what your options are.

Had I not taken that opportunity and asked for that second chance, I would not of had the chance to write this editorial here today. Mistakes in life are inevitable. You just have to realize you made one and make the most of your chance to correct it.