The room fell silent on the first day of class my sophomore year at the University of North Texas when journalism lecturer Kathie Hinnen walked into the room. She was 90 pounds of intimidation, dressed in camouflage pants and an Army helmet to make a point about the work ethic she required of her students.
She has been the toughest professor I’ve had so far, but also one of the most supportive. A former news reporter and editor, professor Hinnen never accepted mediocre, which enabled me to develop a close attention to detail and a strong sense of motivation. It’s one of the many examples of how UNT has helped me succeed as a student and a future professional in public relations.
UNT’s new campaign, Succeed at UNT, offers a powerful message for students, not just during their college years, but long after graduation. Although college is the time to gain the knowledge and skills necessary for our careers, it’s also the perfect time to learn that the choices we make today will affect our future. The campaign’s six tips to success are: Show up, find support, take control, be prepared, get involved and be persistent.
I’m proud of the Succeed at UNT campaign. Through a convenient guide for students to access at the beginning of college, it reinforces strategies for success that UNT has taught for years. Although I’ve learned some of these lessons the hard way, its six-tip mantra is helping me to write a new chapter of my success story and connect with the resources I need to finish my senior year strong.
Success story begins
I started at UNT as a double major in music and strategic communications and worked hard to stay afloat with all of the practicing and studying required to do well in my classes. I found that the best way to do well was to show up for classes, study groups and rehearsals.
I joined the Honors College, which was rigorous at times, but I enjoyed collaborating with my classmates in small-group settings and learning from professors who challenged me. Attending class helped me better understand the material and what I would be tested over. And it helped me meet other students and professors who made UNT and Denton feel more like home.
With a support team of students, professors and advisers who walked me through the process, I mapped out my career path. They helped me make the hard, but right, decision to switch my music major to a minor. I was fortunate to learn that though I can’t do everything, UNT has plenty of outlets for me to express my creativity.
The university offers many resources to students, such as the Writing Lab, Willis Library and the Learning Center, which have helped me do well in class. UNT’s Career Center has prepared me for my future by offering opportunities to job shadow and find internships and on-campus jobs in which I can gain hands-on experience outside of the classroom.
Getting involved in campus life early on was helpful for me, too. I held officer positions in several student organizations such as Public Relations Student Society of America and Mu Phi Epsilon, a co-ed professional music society. Joining these organizations helped me to achieve my goals and to help my fellow students chase their own.
There are hundreds of outlets students can plug into to find their niche, and I benefited from joining UNT’s Green Brigade Marching Band as a mellophone player my first two years at UNT. We worked hard each week to prepare for the halftime shows. The dearest friendships that I have made in college began with making music together.
Starting a new chapter
As I entered upper-level classes and became president of PRSSA, I needed to find balance in my class work, campus involvement and social life. Sometimes it was hard to keep up and I had to sacrifice some of my free time, but putting in extra hours of studying paid off in the long run.
I began college determined to succeed because I knew my parents, grandparents and scholarship donors had invested time and money so that I could have the opportunity to earn a college degree. I wanted to be a good steward of the sacrifices they have made on my behalf.
I have the deepest gratitude for the support and resources UNT has made available because they’ve helped me keep going when things are tough. I’m happy to know that UNT is helping students of all ages and backgrounds cultivate good habits by offering useful tips for success.
Students experience different struggles during college, but the best part is that it’s never too late to rewrite your story. So many students and professors have helped me do well in class, learn more about the kind of person I want to be and pave the road to my future as a PR professional. As an upperclassman, it’s now my turn to pay it forward.
LAUREN FROCK is public relations senior at the University of North Texas.