Emily Harrison: HPU Graduates Meet and Greet


Life hits hard. You won’t always be prepared. It’s the simple truth. Change is quite often abrupt. We’re not always going to be prepared for it.

That’s okay.

Life can cut you deep, but it can also make you stronger.

Thats what this conference was about, the teachings of life

Where to Begin in This new Life

No one should be afraid of their next chapter in life, no matter what has lead up to it, remember that it is indeed the next chapter. Not the end of the story.

HPU had their very first meet and greet, Friday, February 23rd, 2024. The conference consisted of some alumni and some local networks.

Although this conference was for graduates, it’s just as important for undergraduates to hear the messages that were given.

“Every challenge is an opportunity for growth.” – Dr. Steven Fenster

Dr. Fenster welcoming the graduates at the Meet and Greet conference.

Some great advice to anyone in school: get to know your professors. This isn’t just to help you along their course(s), but to help you with everything after that course is done. They may be a key into an internship, a job, another network…

School, especially graduate school, aids In academic growth, yes, but also emotional growth.

College is when you leave the comfort of home, and begin to balance school with jobs, or internships, family, or even just real raw life.

This is where the all too important balance begins to be taught. It’s a skill that not many have, but all need.

Another important lesson Dr. Fenster spoke about consisted of his academic career. Lots of professors and important people have a broad range of stories. Some may be successful sooner than others. Some may start sooner than others, and that is okay.

It’s okay to take a break from school. It’s okay to take a minute and decided what your next steps are.

Your undergraduate major does not have to be your graduate pursuit.

But without a doubt, graduate school gives you more opportunities for any career.

You can meet people from all over the world who not only share your passion, but can introduce you to new ideas.

It’s not easy, and you may feel stuck, but it’s worth the wait to go.

Prevailing Persistence

Justin Nowak, a military veteran, and Hawaiian Airlines senior operations manager, came to speak to the graduates about the absolute necessity of persistence.

Networking is beyond important in our lives. If we wish to advance in our careers, academics, social standings, life… we need to be able to network well.

In order to do better as a community, we must give back to it, and we must be a part of it.

Mr. Nowak answering some of the graduates questions.

“Best advice I’ve had? Go to grad school.” – Justin Nowak

Grad school allows you to build relationships that can further build and develop after graduate school.

Leadership can come from anyone, so pay attention to those around you. and remember that teaching is more than education.

How do you deal with a lack of motivation? What do you do when life is hitting hard?

Don’t quit. Persistence will always pay.

You may not be right for this job, or this internship, or this opportunity. But that doesn’t mean you are wrong. You will be great for something else. And it will find its way to you.

In order to do so, you must connect with more than outside of your community and expand your horizons.

Reach out to someone, and when it’s offered, take the hand of opportunity. It can make a difference not only to you, but also to them.

Graduate school will be hard, and finding your place in the world will be hard, but no matter how accomplished you may be, remember to humble yourself. You are not greater than any task in grad school, or in life.

Entrepreneur Empowerment

We’ve all heard the wondrous tales of entrepreneurship. It’s like a forbidden promise that some of us do have the courage to implore.

We also hear of the tragedies it can bring. But you must learn from each failure. As did Brittany Zimmerman.

Although she discussed some amazing work she has done in her life, revolutionary and groundbreaking, she made it clear to the graduate class that it did not just happen. It came with emotional and physical trials.

You will fail a couple times in life, and it will hit you hard, but you will also get up.

Brittany Zimmerman discussing the trails of her career.

“Find your why. The why you’re doing this, that’s deep within you.” -Brittany Zimmerman

A lot of us forget the why when we begin a project or start a new chapter, and thats when we get lost, and thats when we want to give up. Our why, the reason we wanted to do this in the first pace, is what holds us up when we are getting knocked over.

Some Undergrad Advice

I have my doubts about school, a lot. I question the path I’m on every day. That doesn’t make me afraid of graduate school. It doesn’t make me afraid of networking. It doesn’t make me afraid for my future.

I know, when the time is right, I’ll know what my next step is, and I’ll be able to take it with confidence.

I do think that a career begins with networks. That can be your coworkers, it can be your teachers, it can even be your family. A network is a network.

Don’t let the fear of rejection control you. Were all bound for heartbreak of any sorts, but that wound will heal.

You will learn from the mistake that were along that path. You will learn to trust yourself more. You will learn what is right for you.

The smallest lessons leave the longest impact. And, as my father has told me many times: life will knock you down, so get up, because you don’t belong on the floor.

Don’t be afraid to try graduate school out. Don’t be afraid to connect.

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