Celebrating the Next Chapter AND TAKING ADVANTAGE OF OPPORTUNITIES
well, and since my high school had always been big, I knew I could manage another large school. College really was filled with some of the best memories of my life. I knew I wanted to focus on my studies, so I made sure my classes were a priority, and I was able to graduate in four years — I’m proud of that fact all these years later — and upon graduation at Clemson, I remember being sad that “the best years of my life” had come to a close, or so I thought. If I can impart any wisdom onto the class of 2020 — or encourage you to share wisdom with the graduates in your life — it would be that your path isn’t set in stone after your latest chapter ends. Even if college or high school contains some of your greatest memories, there is still so much you have to look forward to, and you don’t need a concrete plan in order to succeed. I never could have anticipated that I would be where I am today. Coming from a strong lineage of attorneys, I had an idea that the law would be in my future, but I never would have thought I would be managing a firm and other attorneys. If I hadn’t been open to the opportunity, it could have slipped passed me. That would have been a real shame, too. I love what I do. And simply because I come from a family of lawyers, that doesn’t mean law school came easy to me. I had grown accustomed to being one of the smarter students in my class in high school and college, but in law school, I realized that everyone was just as smart as — if not smarter than — me and just as motivated to succeed. I had to push myself harder than I ever had before, and there were some tough times in law school, all of which made the diploma I earned at the end of my law school experience that much sweeter. Like many attorneys, I couldn’t celebrate too much after law school. I only had two months to study for the bar exam. On the week of the exam in July 2003, Hurricane Elvis touched down, and many Memphis residents will remember the carnage left in its wake. I managed to pass the bar exam amid the wreckage and a power outage, but that’s a great story for another month. As for the 2020 graduating class, the end of this chapter may not appear as you always imagined it would. It may have ended in a fizzle, but that does not diminish all the dedication you put into your studies nor does it dictate what’s ahead. Be open to opportunities and good luck in your future endeavors!
J une is often the start of a new chapter for many graduates, whether they are finishing college or deciding what direction to take after high school. However, this year’s COVID-19 pandemic nearly wiped out the end of the school year and caused many graduation ceremonies to be canceled. It’s a unique end to a long journey, but it doesn’t diminish the effort and dedication put forth by so many graduates. There’s still a reason to celebrate and look forward to what’s to come — whatever that may be. I can remember the advice I received from many adults as I prepared for my freshman year at Clemson University in South Carolina. I was told to savor my college years and enjoy the ride because college goes by too fast and is often filled with some of the best memories and lifelong friendships. But when I stood in my dorm room after my parents had dropped me off at college, I wasn’t so sure. I was terrified and sad to suddenly be on my own, since my parents were more than three hours away in Knoxville, Tennessee. Throughout high school, my parents encouraged me to leave my hometown and pass on attending the University of Tennessee where most of my high school friends went to college. My parents wanted me to meet new people and experience the world outside of Knoxville.
However, it was comforting to know that there would be a few people I knew from my large high school graduating class who chose to attend Clemson as
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