Why be just a number when you can be #1?

GoPro Hero 3: Black Edition — “Diamond Head, Honolulu, Hawai’i”

Let’s go back in time for a second.

In 2012, I was a junior in high school at Pine Lake Preparatory. Pine Lake is a public charter school with a total student-body of maybe 400 kids. Every year, the junior class is tasked to find a topic to base their “Pride Project” on. The Pride Project was a “daunting” 10-page research paper that every senior has to present to a panel of teachers in order to graduate. So after a tumultuous, brain storming session of about 12 seconds, I chose to do my project on “Mechanical Engineering in the Automobile Market.” I thought to myself “I like cars and puzzles, so this shouldn’t be too hard to write about.”

Fast forward a year in the future to 2013. I am applying to colleges and finalizing my “Pride Project.” Since I decided to do my project on mechanical engineering, everyone and their mother (literally) could not stop praising me. All I heard were phrases like “There are so many jobs for engineers out there.” “You can make so much money as an engineer!Yadda yadda yadda, blah blah blah. At the time, money and jobs were all I was focused on, so it made sense for me to dive into getting an engineering degree.

I was accepted to North Carolina State University in the Spring of 2013. I started on my track to become a mechanical engineer, though I was not originally accepted into the engineer program. So, I enrolled into First Year College where, if I did exceptionally well, the engineering program would matriculate me into the program based off of my personal choices and performance records. Long story short, this meant I had to work my a** off to get in, which I was not afraid to do. I started going to the prerequisite classes which consisted of calculus, physics, chemistry, etc. My motivation and drive withered away with every class I went to. Coming from a small school with a graduating class of 86, I thought that I was “smarter” than the average student, but I soon realized that in a class of over 4,000, I was simply middle of the proverbial pack.

It took me two semesters to realize that engineering was not the path for me. I loved the idea of it, but the level of genius required was way too much for my brain to handle. The last straw came when I took my first Physics 205 test, during my freshman spring.

I cannot make this up. After studying for almost 8 hours the day before, I walked in, picked up a test and sat down at the front of the class ready to go. I went to write my name at the top but could not find the “Name:______” line on my paper anywhere. What I found instead was a line that I will never forget.

“Student ID #:__________”

I had become a number. I literally did not have a name anymore, I was a number in a system. I stared at my test for a good five minutes before attempting to take it. I knew right then and there I had to get out of this program. I started talking to my adviser the next day about majors I could change to. My GPA was too low to get into almost any of the other colleges. I had no idea where to turn next. After mulling over a few of the options my adviser gave me, I chose to get my degree in Sport Management, largely in part to it’s light course load and intimate, personalized feel.

I enjoyed many of my classes along the way to finishing my degree, but it wasn’t until my senior fall that I found the one class that made it all worthwhile: Sports Marketing. Finally, I had found the topic where my brain could solve puzzles and find solutions for problems, effortlessly. Everyone knows the saying “find something you love and you’ll never work a day in your life.” I am just starting to scratch the surface of what that is for me.

GoPro Hero 3: Black Edition — “Talley Student Union”

From that point on, I knew that I would have a future in marketing, whether it be in sports or not. While I am putting majority of my effort into starting my career in the sports world, I am extremely in-tune with building my personal brand. I believe that the most important aspect of working in marketing is being able to market yourself. I knew that I had to make something out of my name, not become a number in a system.

My goals now are not to make a lot of money or appeal to the opinions of my peers. The only goals I have in life are to achieve peak happiness and be #1 at whatever I have decided to put my effort into.