Hello Fellow Bloggers, First Gen Students, and First Gen Allies,

This is the first in a very long time that I have decided to post a written blog as opposed to a video blog. I really enjoy posting videos but I believe it is time to start diversifying my blogging techniques. First off I would like to thank the I’m First organization for supporting my dreams of becoming the first member of my family to attend and graduate from an accredited university. With an engineering degree already being a difficult path, it can sometimes be a very overwhelming experience for us who are first to pursue higher education. But overwhelming does not mean impossible.

One thing, however, that will make graduating impossible is trying to do everything. It’s natural for college students to want to try being involve in any and every activity that’s available at their university. College is so filled with so many opportunities that it may seem like you will “miss out” if you don’t seize every one of them. But the simple fact still remains: we only have so much time in a day to do a certain amount of things. It then becomes a matter of compromise and sacrifice.

This is something I continually learn during my time in college. Initially as a freshmen, any time a member of an organization approached me with a flyer to come to an event, or the university advertised for some big event, I put it on my calendar and I was there. This was such a problem for the first few weeks of college, but once I started receive heavy coursework, I realize I wouldn’t be able to continue go to every event and keep starting homework at 11 PM. But even after learning a lesson freshmen year, I still joined and volunteered at every student organization that I had interest in sophomore and junior year. As an engineering student, I wanted to be involved in the National Society of Black Engineers but as a lover of the environment I showed up for sustainability club events while still being an active member of the fashion society shows.Not to mention I had to maintain the responsibility of my job as a Resident Advisor. It really was too much.

I remember my epiphany came from an instructor from my resident advisor class who was facilitating a discussion about optimizing success. He displayed visual graph that demonstrated the relationship between responsibilities and productivity. On the graph, there was a drawn trendline that represents a person’s optimal responsibility/productivity ratio. If you’re responsibilities were too far above the the trendline, your productivity starts to rapidly decline, which models the burnout effect. If you’re responsibilities fall too far below the trendline, you’re productivity peaks and represents a place of complacency and stagnation. My teacher then explained the goal in our involvements is to make sure that we are doing enough to keep us motivated to do well, but not crash because of an overwhelming burden. He also stated, that we have to really reflect on ourselves and determine the essential things in our lives and remove as many non essential things. This way we can concentrate on the essential aspects and excel in them.

This process is on going. Each day, I attempt to make sure I identify the things I really need and want to do and stick to them. It’ will always the same from school year to school year and semester to semester. But as long as I know in that moment that I am involved in what I really need for myself, I’m making a step in the right direction. I believe and trust that my fellow readers will do the same for themselves. Keep gaining a deeper understanding of who it is that you need to be, strive for it will all your heart.

My Best Regards,

Carlton Hassell Jr
I’m First Blogger