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This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at VCU chapter.

As my time as an undergraduate is coming to an end, there is much to celebrate. Before I move forward, I want to take time to reflect on my college journey. As a sixth-year, first-generation student, I’ve had a bit of an untraditional educational path. 

When I was 17, I accepted admission to the one college I applied to without even having visited the campus. Just like anyone else, my first semesters in undergrad entailed navigating life away from home, meeting new people, and trying to balance academia with partying. I was confused about the novel adjustment for not liking the college, and I decided to transfer to a different school. Long story short, I hated my time at my new school. I changed my majors twice that year, having no clue what I wanted to do. Laughably, I was an environmental science major and pre-law in one year. I lacked direction and understanding of myself. I wasn’t inspired to do my best academically. I put school off, and admittedly I was on academic probation. When COVID quickly spread and forced virtual learning for the rest of the year, I was honestly relieved.

After I went home and the lockdown settled a bit, I spent the year working. I was a waitress, which is a hard profession to love. However, having time off from school was the pause I needed to come back to myself. I developed my interests and realized school was what I wanted and needed to pursue my professional goals. Most importantly, I found that obtaining an education was a privilege as well as a superpower no one could take away from me. I decided to go back to school at my local community college. After doing well and deciding I was ready to tackle university again.

I found myself at Virginia Commonwealth University. I’ve fallen in love with the environment of academia and with Richmond. What drew me here was the culture and self-expression. It brought me the freedom to be whoever I wanted to be. I had a newfound appreciation for learning, so I made the most of my time here. Also having a better idea of what I wanted to do, I was able to immerse myself in academia and develop my interests. Funny enough, I was right back where I started: a Psychology major. 

And now, I have a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology, graduating with a 4.0. Reaching the end of my undergraduate career has been nothing short of rewarding. It showed me that you can turn your trajectory around if you really want to. I’m not ashamed that I’ve been to four colleges in six years. I don’t look back in regret because it gifted me the lessons and momentum I needed to be where I am now. I am forgiving of the mistakes I made along the way because I was navigating through those situations for the very first time. Sometimes, it takes some looking around to find your place and purpose. I wish my time at VCU had been longer, but I appreciate the steps I had to take to get here. I learned to make the most of the seasons life puts me in and trust that I’ll wind up exactly where I need to.

Abigale Darnell (she/her) is a student in Psychology at Virginia Commonwealth University with a minor in Creative Writing. She has an interest in holistic wellness, female empowerment, fashion and pop culture.