My own definition

It was supposed to be a secret until Sunday, but now I can tell the world: I’m part of the 2010 Mizzou 39.

This means that, after rounds of application and interview, I was named one of the top 39 graduating students, based on academics, leadership and service to the university in my time here. It’s kind of a big deal, and I feel very honored. I remember hearing about Mizzou 39 as a freshman and thinking, ‘Wow, only 39 out of thousands – that would be cool.’ So I’ve kind of had my eye on this for a while now.

However, when the selection process first started, I didn’t feel much pressure, even though it was something I wanted. People commented that I must be nervous or stressed waiting to hear back, but I really wasn’t. And here’s why.

1. You have to apply to be chosen, so the skeptic in me asks, How many were actually in the running? (Note: I don’t know, but we were told it was more than usual). Granted, only accomplished students are likely to apply, but I’ve always valued awards that find me more than those I seek out.

2. I’m a fairly guarded person emotionally, so I don’t like to invest in things that might not pan out. I knew Mizzou 39 was selective, and I had no idea how competitive it would be or how I could compare, so I went in with no expectations. I didn’t anticipate being chosen, and I didn’t tell people I had applied, just to prevent myself from getting my hopes up.

3. Over the past three years, I’ve worked extremely hard and accomplished a lot – in academics, extracurriculars and career-building – so I know I’ve been successful at Mizzou. College has taught me not to determine my value and self-worth by the judgments of others, so I knew that the Mizzou 39 result wouldn’t define my college experience. Yes, I’m thrilled to have been chosen, but I knew it was only one group of people deciding, and if the alumni committee hadn’t picked me, it wouldn’t have changed the fact that I succeeded here.

But I was chosen. And don’t get me wrong – I’m really, really happy and proud to have been selected. I love how excited my parents are and that my journalism mentor has been recognized. Of course, I love the recognition for myself, too, but I’m also happy that college has made me confident enough that I don’t need someone else to tell me I’ve done a good job.

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