The College META MORPHOSIS – personal identity and achievement

Jean Ann Cantore

After high school, students often transform themselves and become what they really want to be.

College is a time to test your wings and to find out where your niche is. Sometimes getting into a new environment where you can recreate yourself is just the boost you need to become really successful.

“Students have a new opportunity when they come to college,” says Tim Massie, chief college relations officer at Marist College in Poughkeepsie, New York. “They can leave behind family, friends, and whatever reputation they may have had in high school. They really have an opportunity to be themselves.

“We had one student with a beautiful voice who was never involved with theater. His friends encouraged him to try out for the lead in West Side Story. He got the part and brought down the house. The experience broadened his horizons and boosted his confidence. He did something he thought he couldn’t do.”

The following four college students not only have discovered ways to spend their rime constructively outside of the classroom, but they also have found activities that will put them on career paths best suited for them. For these students, college is more than a place to earn an education; it’s a bridge to the future.

From Follower to Leader

At Washington-Wilkes Comprehensive High School in Washington, Georgia, Anna Stover always felt she was more of a follower than a leader.

“I joined a lot of clubs because my friends did,” she says. “Also, my mom is the head of several public libraries, and my dad works for Georgia’s Department of Transportation. People always referred to me as ‘their daughter’ rather than as my own person.

When Stover completed high school, she decided to attend her mother’s alma mater, Georgia College and State University in Milledgeville. She didn’t know what she wanted to do with her life when she enrolled, but it did not rake long to find her niche as a leader and educator.

Stover’s involvement with Delta Zeta introduced her to community service, and she was elected chairperson of philanthropy for three consecutive years–the first time any member had served in that office for that long. She was even nominated for Greek Woman of the Year at the college because of her hard work.

“I changed the philosophy of our sorority’s philanthropy,” she says. “They were already involved in community service, but I had more ideas for working with children. The sorority was active with the Big Brothers/Big Sisters program, but I got them even more involved. I starred the Big Brothers/Big Sisters ‘Learn to Swim’ program.”

While Stover enjoyed her work with children, she also enjoyed her classes and began to realize that she wanted to become a teacher. She completed her bachelor’s degree in history and immediately began working on her master’s degree in teaching.

Stover looks forward to teaching high school history and coaching softball, volleyball, and track.

“I feel that in college I blossomed as a leader and stopped being a follower as I had been in high school,” Stover says. “I hope I can help young people to develop their leadership skills earlier than I did.”

An Enterprising Education

Tariq Tutson always had a bit of the entrepreneurial spirit in her, whether she was running the dance ministry through her church in Pittsburgh or working to form a dance company with four friends. But it wasn’t until Tutson went off to college that she got the chance to fully explore her interest in business and pick up some extra cash, too.

As a freshman at Chatham College in Pittsburgh, Tutson not only kept up with her classes in international business and political science, she also maintained her own business–a mail-order school supply company called S.S. Kits.

The seeds for S.S. Kits were planted when, during high school, Tutson enrolled in a summer program sponsored by the National Foundation for Teaching Entrepreneurship (NFTE). As a final project, students in the program were required to develop a plan for a business.

“I had to come up with something to sell,” says Tutson. “I thought school supplies would be good because everybody buys them, but I had to come up with a unique approach. I decided that selling backpacks with all the supplies (like pencils, pens, highlighters, and notebooks) in them for one price would work.”

Tutson decided to turn her plan on paper into a reality, and it became a thriving business.

“S.S. Kits is my first business venture,” says Tutson, a graduate of the Pittsburgh High School for Creative and Performing Arts. “I think having my own business has taught me to think creatively in problem-solving.”

That kind of creative thinking will certainly come in handy for Tutson. She is considering getting a master’s degree in public policy and then joining the Foreign Service, and perhaps ultimately becoming a U.S. ambassador. “I also hope to own my own musical theater and dance company,” says Tutson. “In my wildest dreams, I never thought I’d become an entrepreneur, but going to college is making more of my dreams become realities.”

For more information on starring your own business, visit the NFTE Web site at

The Sound of Music

Before college, Johnny Clark’s formal musical training consisted of one introductory music class taken at Odessa High School in Texas. His informal, training consisted of teaching himself to play a few pieces on the piano.

Although his passion is music, he decided to enroll at Texas Tech University in Lubbock to study marketing. But in a few short years, college turned Clark from a musical novice into a talented composer. As he kept up with business courses, Clark also took a music composition course. By his sophomore year, Clark accomplished something rare–his music was performed by an actual orchestra. The Texas Tech University Orchestra played the first movement of Clark’s “Requiem Mass” as part of the school’s Composer’s Concert. Performances of other movements of the piece are scheduled.

Clark’s composing came about as kind of a whim. After starting college and having taken some piano lessons, he decided to see if he could write a song. “I pulled out a sheet of paper and thought, ‘Why not see if I can?”‘ he says. He could. That success led him to enroll in a music composition class.

Besides composing new pieces (he has written 10 in all), working on the requiem (which may include as many as 14 movements when completed), arranging music for a marching band, and taking music classes, Clark also must balance the academic load required for his major. After graduation, he hopes to find work composing advertising jingles.

A Call to Service

Eric Johnson always wanted to make a difference in the world, but it wasn’t until he got to college that he discovered just how he might go about doing that.

There was a time when Johnson hadn’t even considered going to college. Despite the fact that he was an active and involved student at Queen Anne’s County High School in Centreville, Maryland–leading community service projects, even serving on the governor’s drug and alcohol abuse youth commission–he wasn’t sure college was for him.

It was the encouragement from people he volunteered with that finally convinced him to think about college. “I met people who told me, ‘Eric, you’re doing a lot of great things, and you need to continue to do them. We hope you’re going to college,'” he says.

Thinking he might one day want to become a social worker, Johnson enrolled at Washington College in Chestertown, Maryland, where he majored in psychology, minored in sociology, and continued his volunteer work.

Impressed by Johnson’s leadership skills in anti-drug service projects, several college classmates encouraged him to run for Student Government Association (SGA) president. He ran and won the election.

But the event that really changed Johnson’s life was when both he and former U.S. President George Bush spoke at a campus event in February 1999.

“In my speech, I talked about taking charge of your education,” Johnson says. “It was my last speech as SGA president, and I also talked about how much I’d enjoyed holding an office. I said that I hoped to become president of some other entity someday, such as the board of governors for the school system. When President Bush got up to speak, he praised my speech and said, ‘Why shoot low? Why not 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue?’ He then talked about the George Bush School of Public Service and Government at Texas A&M University.”

After the event, Johnson sent the former president a note thanking him for his speech and his praise. President Bush followed up by having his namesake school at Texas A&M send Johnson an application for graduate studies. Although the official deadline for applications had passed, Johnson applied and was accepted as one of 42 students at the Bush School.

Now Johnson is pursuing a master’s degree in public service and administration, and he’s considering the political arena for his career. He acknowledges that his education and community service have opened numerous doors for him. One thing remains strong in his mind: “No matter what I do, I want to serve,” he says. “My future is in service to others.”

Jean Ann Cantore is editor of the Texas Techsan Magazine at Texas Tech University.


BE A JOINER. Sample lots of clubs and activities. You never know what will click. Many schools hold an “Activities Day” during orientation where clubs set up tables on the quad and you can learn more about the organizations.

DON’T LET HIGH SCHOOL BAGGAGE DRAG YOU DOWN. So what if you thought of yourself as a shy, awkward high schooler. College is a new ball game and it’s time to shed that poor self image.

DON’T BE AFRAID TO TRY NEW THINGS. Sometimes it’s a good idea to dive in and give new things a try. You can usually quit an activity or group it it’s not suited to you.

NETWORK. Don’t be shy about discussing your interests and goals with friends and professors. You never know–a teacher may have a lead on a great internship that could change your life.

COPYRIGHT 2001 EM Guild, Inc.

COPYRIGHT 2001 Gale Group