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Laura Crosswell

Third-Year Ph.D. Student, Manship School of Mass Communication, Louisiana State University

croswellBarely surviving Western Civilization, Spanish 101, and the math requirements I was required to take as an undergrad, the thought of higher education never crossed my mind.  With a diploma in hand, I began envisioning my life as a successful professional in the advertising industry.  After a run-in with the uncaring reality of an economy in free fall, however, I decided to put my career goals on hold and pursue my master's degree in communication.

It was under the dedicated guidance of a spectacular graduate faculty at the College of Charleston that I discovered a true passion and respect for academia.  Driven by the faculty's encouragement, I began applying to doctoral programs across the country.  Now a second-year doctoral student at Louisiana State University, I have reached academic milestones that I had long considered unachievable.

Though things seem to have worked in my favor, I owe much of my good fortune to College of Charleston's Communication graduate program.  I never would have made it this far in my academic journey had it not been for the faculty's invested interest in my future pursuits. While the responsibilities and raw fear of failure I often experienced as a master's student continue to challenge me, the knowledge gained from time spent at the College remains to be an invaluable asset as I tackle current demands.

Pursing an advanced degree is an experience unlike any other, and it is not for the weak at heart. However, the faculty's passion for teaching and unyielding dedication to students creates an enjoyable environment conducive for learning (it also helps that one of the nation's greatest beaches is right down the road). I cannot speak more highly of the graduate program in Communication at the College of Charleston. The faculty shaped the direction of my life in a tremendous way, and I am forever grateful for the defining role they played in my academic endeavors.

For those of you interested in furthering your education, I will leave you with a few of the lessons I have learned along the way, as they have proven to be helpful in managing the challenges often encountered as a graduate student.

1. Accept failure. Failure is inevitable, both in school and in life. Accept the fact, embrace the challenge, and command yourself to be unstoppable.

2. Follow your vision. Never compromise your goals the sake of pleasing others.

3. Take responsibility for your education. It is easy to wall yourself in with books and work, but take the initiative to involve yourself in extracurricular activities. Ultimately, this is probably as important an experience for its networking outlets as it is for the education itself (you live in Charleston, make time to enjoy it!).

4. This is a time to learn. As a grad student, life often seems to unfold in stress waves of varying intensity and duration. Whenever the workload becomes overwhelming, I find it helpful to take a step back and remind myself that I am here to further immerse myself in the discipline that is more my friend with each passing day. I am one of the lucky few who wake up each morning able to pursue my passion. Keeping that in mind makes even the toughest days worth the struggle.

5. Find your passion.  Dedicate your heart, mind, and soul to that which drives you and you will find success.