Rosa Razmi is a recent graduate from James Madison College, who majored in comparative cultures and politics with minors in Muslim studies and women and gender studies. She was the president of James Madison College Student Senate.
I remember the first time someone said the words “Go Green!” to me as a senior in high school. I was working my minimum wage retail job when someone noticed that I had painted my nails Spartan green while I was ringing them up. I had just received my acceptance letter a few weeks prior, and I was so excited to become a cool college student.
My AP Government teacher was a James Madison College alum and, more specifically, a comparative cultures and politics major. He helped push me towards JMC, gave me the little insights I needed ahead of time and affirmed that this was the right move for me.
When I was 17, everyone had told me they were jealous that I had known what I wanted to do next, but all I really knew was that JMC was the program for me. I was going to figure out everything else from there.
Now here I am four years later; ego a little battered and many lessons learned. Another decision on my hands as I move onto a Master’s program: New York University or University of Michigan (I know, I know, the enemy). With the decision date just around the corner, I can’t help but reflect on my time at Michigan State while weighing the pros and cons of both schools.
No matter where I go next, graduate school and beyond, I will always be a Spartan. MSU and, more specifically, James Madison, provided the foundation for me to get to where I am now. My professors here at JMC have given me critical tools to utilize in my future. While they have taught me how to research and write like an academic, they have also taught me how to have greater compassion for the world as I’ve studied it. I would never have been in this position, deciding between two incredible graduate programs, without what I gained as a Spartan.
The road here hasn’t been easy. Some of the things I learned, I had to learn the hard way. Life works out like that, and it’s normal to get knocked down a peg during the process, either by getting something as simple as a bad grade or getting thrown a complete curveball that can change the course of your entire school year.
It’s corny, but you have to fail, or feel like you failed, before you get it right. One of the most important things I’ve learned is that you keep going.
Imposter syndrome has been one of my biggest challenges. I know that a lot of my peers and a lot of faculty members feel the same. It’s part of being a woman in academia and almost every area of professional life. I have spent the past four years of my life, panicking that I haven’t done enough. When I got that first acceptance letter, I finally felt vindicated.
While I wish I could travel back to my freshman year of college and shake 18-year-old Rosa’s shoulders after she got the soul-crushing grade on her first MC111 paper. I’d tell her not to panic, that you’ll grow from here and that it’s all going to work out. I know that I needed to experience that part of the process.
For incoming and current students, I offer you some advice. First, I promise your hard work is going to pay off. You are doing enough. Maybe it’ll manifest in ways that you never would have predicted, but that’s okay too.
Just remember you are young, and you have time.
Next, and this is even cornier than what I said before, but here goes. Dream big. Apply to big places, even if you think you aren’t qualified. Chances are it’ll work out how it is supposed to.
UPDATE: When I originally wrote this, I hadn’t decided where I would be pursuing my Master’s degree. I am happy to say I’ll be attending the University of Michigan this fall! I may be crossing into enemy territory, but I’m still a Spartan first and foremost. I’m very happy with my decision and can’t wait to see what the next two years will bring me. No matter what: Go Green!