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To me graduation is clearance. Clearance to be free and explore the world without class being the first priority. A walk across the stage and into “the real world” that we have so often previously been warned of. Is Howard University not the real world?

From the networking and hustling, to the headaches and the proverbial red tape and learning to look for new routes to the final goal. Now that’s real, or at least I thought so. Well, soon I will know. I’m Nikkia Echols and as a May 2012 graduate my eyes now lie on what’s ahead. I was the first person the H.O.P.E. Scholarship Initiative gave hope to, in the form of a scholarship, and now with their help I have reached the finish line.

I majored in Radio/TV/Film with a concentration in Audio Production. Radio has been my passion for as long as I can remember. Working in radio would make me one of the rare breed that can genuinely say they get paid to do what they love.

During college I worked tirelessly to enter the workforce as a radio personality. From hosting a show on WHBC, Howard University’s student radio station, to interning and doing sit-ins at numerous radio stations. It was all in hopes that someone would see the potential in me that I see in myself — and more.

I know that it’s highly unlikely to grab the super-glamorous on-air job right away but it is possible to get my foot in the door. The rest is nothing that can’t be obtained with hard work, which is something I am no stranger to and have never been afraid of.

What now? The plan is to work in radio before going to grad school and then furthering my radio career.

I’ll be honest grad school was not always in the plans. If you would’ve asked me about going to graduate school 3 years ago my answer would’ve been a firm “NO!” that was more than likely preceded by that fiery place The Good Book warns of. It was college where I realized that I want to one day be a Program Director at a radio or media outlet.

Graduate school in addition to a few years of working experience would be the best path to get me to my goal. In this increasingly competitive job market graduate school can give me a career advantage.

Howard provided so much more than a classroom education, it’s what I’ve learned at career panels, from my peers, in extra-curricular activities and in life that make me ready for life after graduation. Now’s the time for the most critical part: the application. Without being able to apply them to “real life” these lessons are worth nothing. I’m ready! I’m nervous, anxious and excited (yes, all of them simultaneously) for what the future may bring. It all begins with the turn of the tassel.

Give HOPE. Live HOPE.

Nikkia Echols
Guest Blogger

About the Author

Nikkia Echols, new graduate of Howard University is a native of Baltimore, MD and is currently pursuing a career in radio. Echols was the first recipient of the H.O.P.E. Scholarship award read more of her story in our post The Tassel is Worth the Hassle.

This post is a part of our “Life After Graduation” series, check back all week for new posts on the variety of paths available for life after graduation.