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College Dreams

Last week, I was back in my college town at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, for an alumni board meeting at the Business School. Every time I’m back in town, I naturally reflect on my time there, what my hopes and dreams were back then, where I’ve been since graduating and where I go from here. Therefore, I wanted to write today about my college dreams and how they carry a special place in my heart and why we should all keep our college or young adult dreams alive in order to inspire, motivate and guide us throughout our lives.

My college experience was everything I wanted it to be and more. Four of the greatest years of my life were my college years. This was a time in my life filled with hard work, learning and development, growth, self discovery, independence, building and maintaining friendships, having fun and determining what direction to take my life in order to have a successful and bright future. There were good times, tough times and everything in between. But in the end, I learned so much about myself and what I wanted for my life.

I pursued and graduated with a BBA and double-majored in marketing and management. My extra-curricular activities included being the marketing director of the Wisconsin Badger Yearbook, career development chairperson for the Chi Omega sorority, an active member of the WFAA (Wisconsin Future Alumni Association) and a fitness instructor on campus through the University of Wisconsin Athletic Department. I worked at the Campus Assistance Center and also had advertising and marketing internships with AT&T and McCann Erickson Worldwide (a large advertising agency). All of these affiliations and experiences have shaped me into who I am and what I’m doing with my career now. After 18 years in the digital media industry working in marketing, sales and business development roles for Fortune 500 companies and a start-up including Google, Yahoo, Reebok, CNET, GE and Grokker and obtaining an MS in advertising and communications from Boston University, I now am building my own health, wellness and fitness company and brand, Passion Fit. I’m also a WBA (Wisconsin Business Alumni) board member and newly appointed vice chair. I truly feel what I was doing back then was a blueprint and a set of building blocks for what I’m doing now and I’m so grateful to have been and continue to be on a path that supports the goals and dreams and I had then and still have today.

I’m also truly lucky to have met such amazing friends in college, who are still some of my closest friends today. We learned how to be adults together, were bridesmaids in each other’s weddings, attended each other’s baby showers and/or have spent time with each other’s kids, spouses and families and still are there for each other during all the ups and downs of life. I also am always stunned by the fact that my husband (who I’ve now been married to for 14 years) was walking around the same college campus as me for four years, but I didn’t meet him until three years after graduation and thousands of miles away in the San Francisco Bay Area!

I have distinct memories of my college campus including going out on State Street to it’s many restaurants, bars and stores, hanging out at the Union Terrace on Lake Mendota (pictured in this blog post) and the fun outdoor music concerts, conversations and get togethers I had there with friends, living and spending time on Langdon Street, which is where my sorority and other sorority and fraternity houses were, where my brother also lived and where many of the fun parties and fundraisers I attended were, teaching fitness classes three days a week for all four years of college at the SERF and Natatorium workout facilities and of course, frequenting Grainger Hall, which is the Business School, where I spent many hours studying, attending classes, meeting with professors and TAs and working on group projects with fellow business students and friends.

My final memory I wanted to share is of a beautiful, sunny and warm spring day in May during my senior year. Everyone was out and about on campus because let’s face it, warm and sunny days in Wisconsin are never taken for granted. 😉 I was getting ready to graduate in a few short weeks and had proudly accepted my first job with General Electric (GE) in a leadership development rotational program that would take me to four different cities across the country on the West and East Coasts over the next two years. I distinctly remember walking in front of Bascom Hill, a famous area on campus, stopping and looking up at the bright blue sky and thinking that the world was my oyster and I could do and be absolutely anything I wanted. The level of ambition, optimism, hope and excitement I felt at that moment is something I’ll always remember. And even to this day, I think back to that spring day and what I felt and it’s a great reminder of how important it is to have hopes and dreams and to be fearless in your pursuit of them. I’m still that same person today, just with more life experiences, wisdom, successes and humbling failures under my belt. 😉 But no matter where I go and what I do, my college experiences and memories will always be my own and I’ll continue to let them guide and shape me in my life.

What were some of your college dreams and memories or memories from your young adult life in general? How have those experiences shaped you and who you are today? What have you learned from that time in your life and how did it impact what you’re doing now? I’d love to hear from you, so feel free to comment and send your thoughts and/or reflect on them individually as well.

That’s it for today Passion Fit Crew. I’m signing off for now, but will be back with another blog post soon!

XOXO,

Reena