By Aaron White, Guest Writer
Over the last several months, I have written about my time in Thunderbird’s OMGM program, trying to capture the essence of what it’s like to be an online student. I only hope that I have truly echoed the thoughts and feelings of my fellow OMGMs. Now that graduation is around the corner, I would like to take one last opportunity to reflect on the path that led me here and share some insights I’ve learned in my time as a Thunderbird.
For those of you who don’t know me or my story, I grew up in Glendale around the corner from Thunderbird. I went to Pioneer Elementary and then Cactus High School. After I graduated from high school, I spent the better part of a decade floating from one institution of higher learning to the next, changing my majors as often as my schools. I eventually found myself in the professional world without an undergraduate degree. At the time, however, I was content, so I stopped my pursuit of an education. Ultimately, I found my way back and finished my bachelors at ASU in the online Film and Media program. Stumbling through what can only be described as a mélange of a career, I found that there was still something missing. Just like the rest of my life, I floundered around and miraculously found the perfect landing spot back in Glendale through the online program at Thunderbird. During my time in this program, I have had a slew of ups and downs, added a few stamps in my passport, and made lifelong friends. Like many of you, my time in this program has been nothing short of magical and something that I will always cherish.
As I reflect on everything I’ve learned in this program, I would like to take a few moments to share a some of my personal highlights.
First, Dr. Booth, despite the fact that I didn’t do so well on not just one, but both, of your finance finals, I shockingly did learn a few things about finance. Conversely, Dr. Davison, despite doing fairly well in both of your accounting classes, I sadly learned that I should never be an accountant.
Second, I think we have all learned over the last couple of years that anyone can find themselves in a leadership role, but that doesn’t necessarily make them a good leader.
Next, while talent may have gotten you here, it won’t get you there. Undoubtedly, I’m sure that at some point in your life someone has told you that you have talent, but talent alone does not ensure success. This is especially true when it comes to your personal and professional goals. It’s your drive, your gumption—or as Angela Duckworth puts it—your grit, that will help you attain success in both the short- and the long-term.
Finally, I learned the power of inspiration. It truly is a driving force in every aspect of life. Think about it for a second, think about all the leaders you’ve looked up to over the years, and think about how they have inspired you. For me, that list starts out with my mom and my dad, who inspired me to love unconditionally and set an example of a work ethic rivaled by few. It includes all of you, my friends and professors, who have inspired me to look at things from a different perspective. And it’s not complete without my wife, Brianne, who inspires me every day to be a better man and a better husband. Thank you, all of you, for being my inspiration.
Now before I bid you adieu, I want you to think about the way combining those qualities yields something really special. So as we stand here getting ready to jump into our next adventure, I have a simple challenge for all of you. Don’t just be a leader who fills some spot. Instead, I challenge you to find your grit and inspire those around you. Be determined to achieve your goals, be that beacon of inspiration, not just in the work place, but in your everyday lives. I have a feeling it will make all the difference.