To the Class of 2015

To the Class of 2015

This week Facebook is full of images of high school graduations. Some parents cry at their soon to be empty nest while others cheer excited that their kids have finally made it!  The new graduates show sorrow over leaving childhood friends and excitement over what the next chapter of their lives will bring.  I personally couldn’t WAIT to get out of my small hometown of Washington and be on my own.  This observation seems strange to me now since I did get out of Washington, went to college and came back to Washington to raise my daughter.  And, I can’t imagine it any other way.  But, to my 18-year-old self on the night of my high school graduation — August couldn’t come fast enough.

I still remember the drive up on that August day with my parents.  It was hot and sunny, clear skies.  I was nervous.  But, as we took the exit , and we drove past the sign reading University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill I smiled.  This would be my home for the next 4 years.  I’m pretty sure this is the exact moment when the blood in my veins began to run that definitive shade of blue.

I had it all planned out.  First I’d major in American History and then I’d apply to Law School.  Well, I spent my first summer interning at a law office.  Turns out, I didn’t so much enjoy working in a law office.  So back to school I headed that fall with no clue what I was going to accomplish in my life.  By the time I had to declare a major that Spring, I’d really decided that teaching was the avenue that I wanted to take.  So, I went to see my advisor, but I was quickly shut down — I hadn’t come into school to be a teacher from the beginning and therefore I would be behind a semester or two.  I’d graduate later that planned, and this was highly advised against.  It never dawned on me at a timid and unsure 19 to fight this discouragement by talking to someone else and making my plan become reality.  So, I ended up in the School of Journalism and Mass Communications studying Public Relations/Marketing. It was basically a choice that I made because I felt like I could do it.  But, I always look back and wish I’d asked questions, fought harder and realized that one person shouldn’t be all that stands between me and a dream.

Several years ago, Brad Paisley wrote a song entitled, If I Could Write a Letter to Me.  Through the song, he’s thinking back on his life on what he wished he’d known before entering different stages of his his life.  It was released in October of 2007.  At that time I was about 6 months pregnant with my daughter.  I remember hearing it for the first time on my radio one morning and rubbing my expanding belly. I was just thinking about all of the different twists and turns that my life had taken — what would I do over again and what would I change?  What will I tell her when she’s leaving home for college trying make decisions that will affect her life?  Now, I think about this song now with several of the teenagers at my church graduating and heading off to various campuses.  There’s so much I’d like to tell them.  So much I wish I had known.

I reached out to several members of First South Bank and posed this question to them:  If you could go back and give your 18 year old self advice before heading to college, what would it be?
Here are the responses.  Enjoy!

Ashley Bullock, Credit Manager
NC State & ECU, graduated 2008
Don’t rush it; you have the rest of your life to be grown up!  Take a wide variety of classes that interest you.  Use those classes to become better-rounded.  Don’t worry about the 4 year thing, stay in school and learn as much as you can.  Sign up and study abroad at least one summer!

Meg Howdy, Training Director
UNC – Chapel Hill, graduated 2004
Meet lots of people and learn new things.  Get out of your comfort zone.   You never know if that one person you met or new thing you learned could be what your future holds.

Jennifer Evans, Branch Manager, Washington Main
This was told to me by my mother:  “You can never cross the ocean unless you have the courage to lose sight of the shore.”  Be brave and never lose sight of your goals.

Seth Correll, Summer CSA
UNC – Wilmington, will graduate in 2017
If I could go back and talk to my 18-year-old self, I would explain that the work you put in now in your education directly impacts your future.

Paul Jaber, EVP Mortgage Banking
Virginia Commonwealth University, graduated 1978
I actually have an 18 year old starting college in August, and my advice has been and will continue to be: Do your best at all times!  Do not leave anything on the field.  No matter the task — academic, social, community service, commitment — all are important.  Expand your horizons, friendships and participation in all areas of school.  Have a great time, but don’t forget why you’re there.  Be careful and think.

Andrew Lloyd, Branch Manager, Raleigh
Virginia Tech, graduated 2004
1 — Go to class (even the early ones), your academic success is tied to this.
2 — Learn as much as you can by taking a diverse course load.  There IS value in each of your classes.
3 — Have a life.  Part of college is about growing as a person, and you can’t do that with your face in a book the whole time.
4 — Go to ALL the football games.  It will never be cheaper and the venue will never be closer than it is in college.

John Tate, Summer Intern
East Carolina University, will graduate in 2017
All-nighters are never a good idea!

Whatever your plans are this fall — university, community college or entering the workforce — good luck Class of 2015!


Cara Singleton
Marketing Assistant