"I just failed my first exam," a woman with a "deer caught in the headlines" look said to me as I signed a copy of my book for her. I was honored she confided in me. While I'm not one to give off-the-cuff direction to someone I just met, I couldn't help blurt out, "Well, you can't give up, you have to get a tutor. Now, right away."
She told me she had already paid for the class and if she dropped the course she would lose her international student visa. I can't even imagine the pressure she feels -- and I hope I encouraged her by saying, "You can do this. It's just one grade. Don't give up."
She hugged me spontaneously and made my day, as did approximatley 200 students at the Universities at Shady Grove (USG) who enthusiastically welcomed me and my book, Unsinkable: FInd a Job, Create a Career, Build a Business. They were so positive. I hope the photos convey USG's culture: energetic, bright and optimistic.
Several students told me they liked the word "Unsinkable" in the book title (whew, I struggled over that word!) I also felt a kinship with them when I spoke of persistence. "You can do it" were words I needed to hear back in my early days when I figured I had messed up my future irrevocably. If my story of near-drownings motivated them...well, then getting soaked was worth it.
I came away from my few hours with these scholars with a positive expectancy about the future they will create. During my brief presentation they asked great questions, demonstrating both imagination and dedication. Then they lined up for me to autograph the book and promised to email me with comments once they had read it. Authors love it when someone offers to read and comment on their work!
Thank you Julia and USG staff for inviting me. And for those who don't know about this higher education gem, USG is a wonderful option for college. Students can major in programs offered by one of nine schools in the University of Maryland System and take classes in Montgomery County. The mostly young students (with the exception of one incredible woman about my age getting a graduate degree...yeah!) were from all over the globe -- earning degrees in communications, criminal justice, gaming theory, hospitality service, marketing, nursing, and pharmacology just to name some of the options. Because many of these students are children of immigrants they can live at home and go to school while holding jobs to support their family. At USG I found a community of Unsinkables! Learn more about USG.
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