My Journey to Get Here

todayApril 29, 2022 6

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By Joseph Zakaria


After I graduated high school, I had a plan, but unfortunately, my plan didn’t go as planned. 


I was concerned about getting into a career that paid a lot of money so I could live a good life. “Become an engineer!” That was my bright idea, and so I ran with it. 


I went to Southeast Community College for a couple of years, and then I got accepted into Texas Tech University’s Whitacre College of Engineering. I was ecstatic and proud. However, I would have had to take out almost $100,000 in student loans for out-of-state tuition. Screw that.


So I ditched that idea and just started working. 


As time went on, I felt like I was losing my potential and, most importantly- my spark. I was letting my life slip away and missing out on an educational experience. 


I worked odd jobs to get by, and every time I got to the “Education Experience” section, I felt a bit of shame writing down that at 22 years old, a high school diploma was all I had. 


It was time for a change. I decided to go back to school, not for anyone else but myself.


Initially, I thought I would go to UNL and study computer engineering. Then I thought computer science would be better. I told myself “Computer science is taking off, and you’ll make a lot of money!” And just like last time, I was wrong again. I sucked at computer science!


Then something unexpected happened. 


The summer of 2020 was a monumental and pivotal moment for me. I fell into journalism. First, I began live streaming and reporting on different events via social media, which took off. Then, I started writing more and sharing my ideas and thoughts online with people. Slowly but surely, the money started coming in from social media monetization. I took a semester off of school to help grow my platforms.  


I started thinking back to how I always excelled in English classes in my K-12 years and enjoyed watching and reading the news growing up. I decided to go back to UNL but moved over to the College of Journalism and Mass Communications. I have never been happier, and feel like I belong.


I will finally graduate in December 2022 with not one, but two degrees. I feel so accomplished. I often think back to when I was 19 years old, thinking that my life was over because I couldn’t go to Texas Tech.


I wish I could go back and tell that 19-year-old kid that a four-year plan is not for everyone. It is not for you, and it will take you much longer, but you will have so many exciting experiences and opportunities that some would kill to have. Do not focus on everyone else’s pace or what they are doing. You are on the path you were meant to be on, and it is special to you. Trust that you will reach the end, and you will be perfectly fine. 

Written by: Kaci Richter

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