By Summer Smith

OKWU friends, we have just completed three weeks of school. How do you feel about the start to the first semester? For some students, this college thing has been a walk in the park. Other students are already facing much anxiety and agitation because of the pressure to do well in school. “Be a successful student.” Most people _ to numbers when it comes to defining success such as high grades, statistics, and achievements. While those numbers do matter to some extent, do they fully encompass what it means to be successful? I asked seven students around OKWU’s campus a question: “how do you measure your personal success?” 

Abby Hutchinson, an accounting major and soccer player, focuses on character growth over numbers. “It’s not all about intelligence,” Abby says. Instead, a strong work ethic and level of perseverance marks success in her eyes. Another valuable thing that Abby accounts for is the quality relationships she builds no matter what her task is. The relationships she has with God and others give her meaning outside any quantitative achievement.  

I next spoke with student mentors Destiny Sprangler and Tristan Lujan. Tristan determined that living the life he is supposed to is the successful life. He defines that successful life as living a life of purpose, a life devoted to Jesus Christ. Tristan also takes time to celebrate his spiritual growth. He remembers where he has started and where God is leading him today. Destiny celebrates her personal and spiritual growth. With the joy of Jesus, she “releases negativity,” letting go of what is attacking her peace. “There were negative things, things that were hurting me a lot— got rid of those.” Destiny shared that she still fights negative thoughts, yet she is overflowing with joy.   

Zachary Moreno, Sports Management major, concluded that defining personal success should not be complicated. His point is to always, no matter what life brings, remain true to himself. To avoid compromising his personality in the highs and lows reassures him. Zachary encourages people to remain happy regardless of what other people think of you or how they define success.  

I then spoke with seniors Nyia Hall and Rae Frazier. They tell students to step outside the box. No, literally— step outside your dorm room and surround yourself with emboldening people. Nyia and Rae emphasize that no one can be successful alone. Being successful takes a resilient mindset, and uplifting words from others can boost that resilience. They both acknowledged that motivating oneself can be difficult at times; Nyia responds, “Just keep going. You got to have that beast in you.” Rae brought a new perspective into the conversation. Most times, when people think about living a successful life, they turn to a “grind harder” mentality. Oppositely, Rae highlights fun and rest to rejuvenate the mind. Give yourself a break and create fun memories with fellow students. Nyia and Rae share ideas like picnics, water gun fights, movies, and campus events. Don’t let frustration and anxiety stop you from resting and rebuilding that mindset resilience. Take Nyia’s and Rae’s advice: encourage yourself, enjoy yourself, and surround yourself with uplifting things.  

Geo Blanco defines success as what one has overcome (or is overcoming). To Geo, character growth is of greater value than grades or number of achievements. He explained that he is proud of who he has become.  

OKWU friends, as you think about success, remember that you are more than your highs and lows. Remember that God never keeps score. With these truths in mind, what does it mean for you to be successful?