“Part of the benefit of going to university and putting yourself in new situations is that you do learn a lot about yourself. Even when I had failed all these courses and was forced to withdraw, I was already planning and thinking about how I was going to come back! I was so insistent on graduating. That’s not to say that I don’t believe in quitting when it’s the best decision, but for me, it’s extremely hard to let go of something without giving it a fair shot.

I never bothered to tell my parents that I got kicked out of school, even after I graduated. At the time, I told them I was just taking a year off because that was easier. But now I look back and wish that I had been more honest and vulnerable with them so that they’d have more insight into who I really am. I think that in life, what’s more, impressive than your initial and individual success, is how you handle the inevitable challenges that come your way, and how well you build a team around you who will continue to support and help you succeed in the future.

I can’t imagine what it’s like for students these days, trying to complete nearly 100% of their courses online; it was hard enough for me to learn when I sat through my lectures in person. I realized that it was always harder to retain any material if I didn’t have any real personal connection to it. It just didn’t stick for me; I didn’t care. I only got through my courses because of the friends that helped me laugh, the professors I had gotten to know, and the clubs and study groups I committed to joining.

In university, the problem I wanted to solve was the feeling of disengagement and disconnection within our department. I never wanted anyone to feel the way that I felt, so I used any skill and any means I had at my disposal to solve for that. There is always a solution if you want to find it bad enough. It sounds like something I magically did on my own, but honestly, had it not been for the encouragement of the people around me, the outcome would have been very different.”