The future starts with freshman year

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They say that college will be the place where you find yourself and truly figure out what kind of people you really are, where you will meet people who become lifelong friends. They say that college will be the best four years of your life.

I believe everything that “they” said. Your freshman year of college will either make or break you.When I first arrived on the campus of the illustrious N.C. Central University, I was ready — ready to finally be away from home and make my own decisions in life.

I can’t lie; I did have the weight of those at home on my shoulders who all had so many great expectations from me. I’m just a church kid out of Rocky Mount, N.C. trying to make something of myself and become a man that my family and community could be proud of.

Many people from my city don’t make it far after graduation. After graduation you are either seen in the streets, working, in school or dead, which comes as no surprise in Rocky Mount. Every year I was in high school, someone in my school was killed, typically in a gang-related incident.

I didn’t want to be another statistic. I wanted (and still want) to make something out of myself and be considered one of the best to come out of my city.

With those expectations of myself, I wasn’t about to wait for opportunities to be handed to me. I have an aggressive mindset and I wanted everything that college had to offer me right away.

Within the first week of school, I saw myself becoming a member of the Campus Echo and opportunities started to present themselves anyway: sideline access to on- and off-campus athletic events, free access to student activities and a good-looking paycheck. The hype that I’ve received from my peers and coworkers has boosted my head, but I try my best to remain humble. That humility is what got me to where I am today.

Despite the early success, I did have my share of ups and downs in my first semester.

I tried to fit in with everyone else and ultimately started to become someone that I didn’t recognize in the mirror. I was hanging around people who did not have my best interest in mind and would smile in my face but talk against me behind my back.

As friends started leaving left and right, I began to see who was really in my corner. That first semester was my wake-up call. When this one came around, I refocused on my goals and where I wanted to be.

Part of that refocusing came from my promotion to Sports Editor and participating in the 2018 Southern Regional Press Institute at Savannah State University. I didn’t win any awards for my own work, but that kind of defeat only gave me more motivation.

On that trip, I had an epiphany: I don’t want to be just a writer. I want to do everything.

That motivation and realization pushed me into joining AudioNet downstairs and, with the help of my brothers Shun, Kera’ and Kevin, start my first radio show: “The Real Deal.”

As I write my first editorial article, which will be my thirteenth article for the Echo echo this year, I feel accomplished but not finished — there is still more work to be done.

Despite all the classes I’ve taken in my freshman year, the biggest lesson that I learned was from outside of the classroom: “Know your self-value.”

I had to realize and understand who I was now and what I wanted for the future. I realize now that I cannot waste my time with things that are below who I am as a person, including other people as well. College is all about figuring out who you are as a person and becoming the person that you want to be. That process will always require change. I had to reevaluate not only myself but the people I surrounded myself with. Once I recognized the negativity in my life, I had to make the necessary changes of removing them in order to grow up.

I can admit that I’m still growing up, though. I’m not perfect and I have my flaws. I’m only 18 and have yet to reach the ceiling of where God wants me to be in life.

That being said, I’m not too worried about it. Even though I have three years of college left, I’m confident in my ability and know where I want to be in life. God willing, I will get there.

Jalon is a Mass Communications student at N.C. Central University in Durham, N.C.. He loves sports, especially football and basketball.

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