Reflecting upon my time at Lewis & Clark, I can truly say that I had an unbelievable journey. Coming to Portland, Oregon, from South Los Angeles at the age of 18 was a life-changing transition, and I attribute much of my success as a small business owner to what I learned at Lewis & Clark—both in the classroom and beyond its walls. Many of my experiences as a student were wonderful; others were challenging. I learned the value of critical thinking and began to push myself in the face of obstacles. Although the journey of college was not always what I expected it to be, it was always worthwhile.
One of the biggest lessons I have learned since leaving Lewis & Clark is that journeys don’t end when college does. As I prepared to run the Los Angeles marathon—my first marathon ever—I trained diligently for 16 weeks. But even after logging nearly 600 miles of running, I still wondered if I could successfully complete the race. I worried about endless variables that would be out of my control: thoughts of huge crowds, extreme temperatures, and other potential negative obstacles plagued me. Only when a friend suggested that I forget about the finish line and simply “enjoy the journey” did I become less anxious.
Fortunately, my liberal arts education at Lewis & Clark has equipped me with the flexibility, adaptability, and ability to “think on my feet” and find ways to come out ahead when Plan A is no longer an option and I need Plan B, or C, or D.
Thanks to this advice, I approached marathon day with newfound confidence. I had thoroughly studied the course map, elevation charts, and pre-race instructions. I had acquired all of the knowledge and materials necessary for confronting this challenge. I thought that nothing could go wrong, and that I could fully enjoy myself because I had it all planned out.
Before the race even began, my plan developed cracks. A motionless traffic jam forced me to sprint along the freeway and knock down a fence just to reach the starting line on time. My legs became severely cramped at mile seven, which had never happened during training, and the pain only worsened as the race went on. When I paid attention to all of the supportive volunteers and exciting distractions around me, however, my attitude improved greatly. I altered my pace, got comfortable with being uncomfortable, and put one foot in front of the other until the end.
Crossing the finish line brought a feeling of great excitement, but that was only part of the reward of running the marathon. The experience of it—including the tough parts—reminded me of all the invaluable lessons I learned so long ago and their applicability for use along future journeys. Like that marathon, life offers unexpected change and challenges. Fortunately, my liberal arts education at Lewis & Clark has equipped me with the flexibility, adaptability, and ability to “think on my feet” and find ways to come out ahead when Plan A is no longer an option and I need Plan B, or C, or D…
When I interact with Lewis & Clark students, I am endlessly inspired by how willing they are to take their own journeys and make change in the world, transforming their visions into realities while running their own marathons filled with amazing challenges and triumphs.