Nov 01, 2014

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Life Lessons from My Journey After College by Stephanie Bravo of StudentMentor.org

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After College

Contributor Stephanie Bravo of StudentMentor.org shares her journey of self-discovery today on New Latina.

A very wise man once told me that no one’s path is ever a straight line. This is something that rings true over and over again in the struggles and triumphs of my life. After 6 years, long hours burning the midnight oil, countless term papers, and foot breaking work at a retail store to help pay for college, I was very honored to get that hard-earned diploma in my hands. As one of the first in my family to graduate from a four-year university, my graduation was a proud day in the Bravo household. After a late-night fiesta celebrating my accomplishments with my family and friends, I woke up the next morning wondering, “Now what?”

I had this realization that I could do anything I wanted to do as I was traveling down a road filled with endless possibilities. I felt like I was at a huge buffet with all of my favorite dishes that I wanted to eat all at once. But, I knew I had to figure out what I wanted to sink my teeth into and pursue that path with all of my energy in order to truly succeed.

I had already been working incredibly hard towards medical school, and I knew I had to follow that road so that I wouldn’t look back and wonder, “What if?” But, I soon discovered that medical school was more like glorified slavery capable of inducing panic attacks and bringing out classmate’s narcissistic personality disorders. Thus, my tenure in medical school was short-lived, but I found my other passion: mentoring. My extracurricular activity helping pre-med students pursue medical school became my primary passion and medicine took a backseat in my life.

Since I had an amazing experience with a mentor who helped me excel through the pre-med path, I really wanted to help college students graduate and succeed in their dream careers. I began applying to jobs in the education-nonprofit sector, but unfortunately this did not work out very well. Since I had spent most of my time in college polishing my application for medical school, my marketable skills for the workforce were severely lacking. I really wish I had honed my skills in crafting a resume, networking, and investing time in internships throughout college. These skills are essential in helping students make the transition into the workforce, and could have helped me tremendously early in my career.

Although my lack of “real world’’ skills left me jobless, it was a blessing in disguise. After reaching out to one of my mentors who started his own business, he advised me that when there are no open opportunities for you, you must create your own opportunities. This wise piece of advice gave me the courage to do something that I always wanted to do: become my own boss and start a nonprofit organization.

I founded StudentMentor.org to propel college students through higher education and enhance their career readiness through the power of mentoring. Students from every school in any major now have the opportunity to work with mentors to help them achieve their academic and career goals. Mentors are experienced professionals from a variety of industries that provide insightful advice into their industry and how majors will translate into the working world. They also help students build up their skills in time management, resume building, job interviewing and much, much more. My ultimate vision is that by finding mentors early on, students can learn key life lessons to propel them towards success in their academics and careers.

The key life lessons that kept coming up throughout my journey and eventually led me towards success are:

  • Ask for help by reaching out to mentors
  • Invest time in building up your skills
  • Know yourself and follow your passions and strengths
  • Use all of your resources
  • Create opportunity for yourself when none exists
  • Never, ever give up

And so my story comes full circle from learning from mentors throughout my life to giving the gift of mentoring to every college student around the country. I feel very blessed to have been able to walk down my winding path. Although my life has had many bumps and bends in the road, I’ve learned to embrace my curves.

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Marlyn Nunez

Marlyn Nuñez is a graduate of New York University, earning a Bachelors Degree in Communication Studies. She also received a Masters Degree in Education from CUNY's City College.

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