Special Feature: “Meet Amanda”

Amanda HinesI personally know Amanda Hines – a girl with a contagious smile and so much to share with the world!  She is a beautiful woman inside and out.  Amanda has experienced what it’s like to nearly fail out of college, but she did not let unhealthy choices and mistakes made hold her back.  She quickly chose to learn from her experiences and mistakes, take ownership of her actions, and move forward to achieve her dream – receiving her bachelor’s degree and living the life she imagined for herself!

I’ve had the pleasure to interview Amanda, and she is very open about sharing her story in hopes that she can help others who are entering their freshmen year of college.  Read on and be inspired!

What is your current dream you’re chasing?

“There are several goals that I am currently striving to achieve; my biggest one is earning my bachelor’s degree so I can eventually take on a career that allows me to help others improve their lives.”

Explain your journey thus far while in pursuit of your dream.

“It has definitely been quite the ride thus far! The best word that I can use to describe my journey so far is unpredictable.  I started out solely focusing on being a full time student and working weekends at the mall. Today, I am a part time student, working a full time job where my main focus is keeping good grades, keeping my house in order, and making sure I’m on top of things in the office. Never in my wildest dreams did I ever imagine I would be where I am today.”

What would you say has been the biggest struggle along your journey?

“For me, the biggest struggle I have dealt with is acceptance. Accepting the fact that things don’t always go exactly the way you want them to. All throughout high school all I wanted to be was a “Penn Stater” (I even willingly went to summer school my senior year because they wanted me to have additional classes!).  So when I got there and realized that things weren’t working out, it was hard accepting the fact that I would never get to wear the navy blue cap and gown with the rest of the 2013 graduating class – and even harder trying to figure out what was in store for me in the future.”

What keeps you motivated while chasing your dream?

“There are three things that keep me motivated. The first, and most important, is my family and boyfriend.  I am truly blessed to have such an amazing support system that loves, cares for, and supports me the way that they do.  The second way I stay motivated is by reflecting on the past (yes!).  I have held onto things such as newspaper articles I have been mentioned in (both good and bad), poor grade performance notices, etc.  Whenever I have a bad day, or question why I am pushing through this journey I look back at these things and see how far I have come and how much I have grown.  I believe that in order to accept the hurdles life throws at you, it is important to be able to go back to where it all started.  Finally, the third way I stay motivated is through my addiction to quotes.  Anytime I hear or read one that sticks out to me I jot it down. Most are scattered around my bedroom, cubicle, school binders…any place that I could use that extra motivation throughout the day.  Some of my favorites?

“Without struggle there is no progress.” – Frederick Douglas

“No job is beneath you.” – Randy Paush “The Last Lecture”

“When we long for life without difficulties, remind us that oaks grow strong in contrary winds and diamonds are made under pressure.” – Peter Marshall

What would you have done differently during your freshman year of college?

“When I first began college I had this picture perfect vision of what it was going to be like.  I was going to meet friends that would last a lifetime, fall in love with an engineering student, not gain the “freshmen fifteen”, and live happily ever after.  Although I did obtain some of these things (and it was definitely not avoiding the “freshmen fifteen”), I never once focused on the reason why I was there – to get an education.  I focused more on the social aspect of college and impressing people who didn’t really matter…forgetting who I was and replacing it with who people wanted me to be.  If I had one “re-do”, I would change both of those things.  I would have focused on my education, and would have simply been ‘me’.”

When faced with a stressful situation how do you approach that situation?

“I will admit, juggling a full time job and school is a lot harder than I originally thought it would be.  I went into last semester (my first as a full time employee and part time student) thinking it would be a lot easier than former semesters simply because my class load would be cut in half, and because it was all online.  That was until I had to pull my first all-nighter, having to be up for work at 8 a.m. the next day (which I would not recommend to anyone, no matter how much caffeine is involved!).  In the beginning, I had horrible time-management skills, but I soon learned how to manage all of my priorities.  Lunch hours quickly turned into study sessions and my Xbox was quickly replaced with textbooks and note taking.  It was hard, and stressful, but the big picture kept me going.  And, I now have to say, I have never been more focused on school… ever.”

What would you say to someone who is about to enter his/her freshman year of college?

“To all “soon-to-be” freshmen:

ο Your high school guidance counselors were right – high school is nothing like college; get to class and study, study, study.

ο Time management is the most crucial tool to your college career.

ο In between class and studying, get involved.  College campuses have so many different clubs and activities to choose from.  This is a great way to meet new people and show school spirit, all while having fun!

ο Don’t worry about time; everyone is moving at a different pace.  If it takes you longer to get through school, so be it.  Whether you are there for 4 years or 10 years, the reward will be worth it.

ο Be yourself!  The right people will love you for who you are, not who they expect you to be.

ο Don’t focus on the stereotypical college experience everyone talks about.  Make it your experience, not someone else’s.”

Amanda is currently taking courses at Community College of Beaver County and will be transferring to Robert Morris University in the fall of 2014 for her bachelor’s degree in Psychology.

Feel free to reach out to Amanda via Facebook or email: amanda.hines13@gmail.com

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