Two Years After Graduation: My Progress

Last year I wrote a post about what I’d accomplished in the year since I finished school. It’s only fitting that I do it again.

Two years ago today I walked across the stage at the University of Houston Downtown graduation ceremony. It was quite the day that I won’t be forgetting anytime soon. Probably helps that I have a picture from that day on my nightstand just a few feet from where I sleep. You can read a little about what I accomplished in the first year after graduating from college here.

I’ll only be talking about what I’ve done in the last year from this point on.

The end.

Seriously. During my first year I wrote my book and started this blog, but in the last 365 days I haven’t done much. It hasn’t been a lack of motivation. I haven’t written anything, which is fine by me because there’s something much more important that I need to figure out before I think about that. It’s called a job, a real one.

I’ve been actively searching for a job since at least August. All of them in CJ. And nothing has panned out. Now I’ve reached the point at which I don’t think I’ll ever be working in CJ, which is disappointing and ridiculous at the same time. First, the American criminal justice system as a whole is under a microscope right now. One would think CJ agencies all over the country would actively be seeking out applicants who have a college education and have displayed over the course of their lives a high level of moral character. I have. This isn’t me bragging, it’s simple fact. Second, I know based on my experience during these last few months that I’m much more qualified for any CJ job than a significant portion of the applicant pool for any jobs in the area. I can’t speak for other parts of the country, though it’s very likely the same, but most CJ applicants down here apply with a high school diploma and a few college hours. You know just as well as I do that there’s a big difference between someone who went to school two or three semesters and someone who finished.

That last paragraph just seems like a rant, but oh well.

My main goal for the last year has been to find me a job in CJ, and I’ve failed at that. Now I need to reevaluate what my future holds.

No question for y’all today. Last year’s post included a handful of pictures, but not today. I don’t feel like including any.

PS: my failed job search has nothing to do with the economy or the worth of college degrees in today’s society, just know that you’re wrong if that’s what you’re thinking.


On this day in 2014 (as you already know) I published A Year After Graduation: My Progress.

 

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Saturday Selects: Getting your degree

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Photo Credit: Degrees Finder

Saturday Selects is a series of posts I write the first Saturday of each month in which I discuss a topic that is unrelated to my typical bookish posts. You can read the previous posts here. This week we’re going to talk a little about college. And that ever moving target we all know as a degree. But first, let me tell y’all a bit about my experience.

My time in college started in August of 2010. This came of course immediately after graduating from high school in June of that year. I didn’t step foot on campus until orientation, which happened in July. My first thoughts were not all that positive. See, the University of Houston Downtown is in downtown Houston. There are skyscrapers and a million gazillion cars everywhere, people walking around in suits, there’s the county jail…suffice it to say that there is A LOT going on in downtown Houston. As there likely is in the heart of any metropolitan area. So I don’t know how I still managed to think that I’d have that picturesque college campus. Nope. The school consists of six buildings that are within walking distance of one another. North and South Towers, which are literally towers. I think they’re 13 stories high? Academic Building. Commerce Street Building. Shea Street Building. One Main Building. Why am I telling y’all this? My experience is immediately different from the experiences of most students just in the layout of the university. There are no huge areas of green grass surrounding any buildings. There aren’t extravagant buildings added each year. Though two of the buildings have been added within the last decade. The point I’m making is that UHD has a different feel to it than most universities. There aren’t even dorms.

Now just a little more about my experience while I was there. I never considered taking part in any fraternity or association on campus. It just wasn’t for me. I never really thought to make a bunch of friends or socialize, to be honest. My philosophy while I was in school was essentially go to class, sit in the front row, take notes when necessary, get home as soon as possible once class is over. I’m not kidding. I could easily go days in class without speaking to anyone. Because I was there to get the piece of paper I have sitting right here in front of me now as I write this. The degree. And no one I went to school with was going to help me get it but me. I stuck with that philosophy throughout my time in school. And guess what it got me? Not only did I get that degree I was after, but I did so with honors while being the youngest in my graduating class. My time at UHD ended on May 15, 2013, the day my graduation became official.

But this post isn’t all about me. I’m 22. I know A LOT of people still in school. My high school graduating class is now four and a half years post graduation. You and I both know that some of these degrees that are being sought will never be earned. Why? Because my philosophy doesn’t seem to work for most people. All you ever hear about is the college experience and how great everyone wants those years to be. That’s great, but I’m afraid that too many people have lost sight of the actual goal. See, the goal isn’t to have sex with as many people as you can or to see how many weekends in a row you can find yourself over the toilet because you don’t know when it’s time to stop drinking; it’s that degree. At least for me it was. I was one of those guys in high school who constantly said how smart I was but I didn’t try (I graduated #427 out of 527). Because I knew college would be the time for me to put up or shut up. I put my money where my mouth was and got down to business the minute I walked on campus.

Another part of the equation I’m thinking about now is how many kids don’t particularly care about what they’re doing because they have parents who are paying for their new car, their off-campus apartment, and everything else they NEED while they’re in school. See, I didn’t have that. My parents cannot afford college tuition for any university, so all of my expenses were paid for by grants, scholarships, and the federal government. That was my incentive for staying focused on the goal at hand. Sure my GPA was high and I was getting paid to go to school, but if I decided to slack off for a semester or two I’d struggle to find the money to pay for future classes.

This post isn’t meant to say that every single person should go to college and get their degree. That’s not what I’m saying because I know that college isn’t for everyone. Quite honestly, I’m not even sure it was for me. But I gave myself three years at a university to get it done and I did. And if I can, so can you. But you have to want it. You have to be focused on what it is you’re trying to do. Do you want to be one of those students who spends nearly a decade in school without getting your degree? Or do you want to become a graduate?

My message to you would be to forget about that upcoming Halloween party. Forget about what you’re going to do for your friend’s 21st birthday. Go study. If that’s too much to ask, then read a book and get off Twitter. Focus on the ultimate goal of the college experience. You have the rest of your adult life to make memories of things of much greater significance than that frat party.


Whew. Sorry guys. I sat down to write this and had no idea what I was going to say.

 

A Year After Graduation: My progress

One year ago today my name was announced as I walked across the stage at the Spring Commencement of the University of Houston Downtown. Before we get into what I’ve done in the 365 days since that wonderful day, let me tell you all a little about it.

I woke up extremely early. Around six. Guys, this may be regular for some of you, but I do not EVER wake up this early. I ate a rather large breakfast because the ceremony wasn’t set to begin for another four hours, and then I wouldn’t get to eat for several more after that. Then I did the only thing I could. I got ready.

About five hours later the name John Raymond Guillen, Cum Laude, was announced. I know this happens a gazillion times every year in America, but I came so close to crying on stage in front of about 1,000 graduates and like 20,000 friends and family members. It wasn’t because it was unexpected. Or because I was the first of eight siblings to make it to this day. It was simply because I’d done it. I had maybe 25-30 family members and a few friends there for me. But only three friends went to our little lunch get together afterward, and I told them I’d never forget that they were there. Because it turned into a 13-14 hour day for everyone involved. Mercedes, I love you. Grant and Nathan, same goes for you guys.

I didn’t cry during the ceremony. Or before. It wasn’t until I started reading all the graduation cards I’d gotten that I finally did. I was graduating from college and it was writing that got me to cry. Now let’s see what I’ve done since then.

I wrote a book

This is definitely something to be proud of. The day I received my author proof is still probably the second best day of my life. Behind graduation up there. And the only things that could even come close to it that may be happening within the next decade or so are my wedding day, getting an agent, and getting a publishing contract.

I started a blog

Starting a blog isn’t significant in itself, it’s the people I’ve met from blogging. You all might think I’m crazy, but I seriously love you all. Did I ever think I’d be approaching 1,000 followers, ever? No. Did I ever think I’d talk to so many great people just about everyday? No. I could name like ten of you guys who I thoroughly enjoy talking to, but I don’t want to embarrass anyone. BUT I want to name one. Mahrukh. Oh my goodness. Could you imagine if I’d never started a blog? Then I wouldn’t have found yours. Then we wouldn’t talk. I mean, it’s almost scary. I’m lucky. And so are you. 🙂

But that’s it. I wanted to have so much more by the time this day arrived. I was supposed to have my second book written by January 1. I was supposed to finish writing my current WIP and have another book written by the time 2014 came to an end. I was supposed to be working toward getting an agent by now. But I’m not. And I don’t think I have the time to write another book once I finish the one I’m working on. And I don’t know anything about agents or query letters or anything.

I’m not going to sit here and act like I’m completely disappointed with myself. I’m not. I just wanted more from the last 365 days than I’ve gotten. I need to get with it. And soon. I don’t want 2014 to end up being the year of accomplishing nothing.

I’ll leave you with some pictures.

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ImageImageNow I need some words of encouragement from you guys.