by Madison Baker
I was honored this past year to serve as the Lincoln Land Community College student trustee and commencement speaker. As a proud 2016 graduate of LLCC, I will be transferring to Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville this fall to follow my dream of becoming an accountant.
I started my career at LLCC in January of 2014 after graduating early from Hillsboro High School. I immediately started taking classes at Lincoln Land in Litchfield.
It is no secret that Lincoln Land is different than other universities. Those schools have Greek houses. They have campuses that are basically towns. Some even have a Starbucks on campus. Notice that while I say different, I never say better. LLCC has faculty and staff that genuinely care about our success and are always willing to help. We have small classes that not only let us become close to our teachers, but our peers as well.
In the beginning of my college career, I was very shy and socially awkward. I just wanted to show up, do my time and then go home. But as time went on and I immersed myself more and more, I realized all the amazing things about Lincoln Land. Last year I was encouraged to run for the position of student trustee. I was very scared of running and I asked myself, “am I really good enough for that?” “Would it be too much to handle?” “What if I was the worst trustee in the world?” I am just a small town girl who wasn’t involved in many things in high school. I knew nothing about politics or how a meeting was conducted. As I sat there and pondered, I finally asked myself …“what if I could do it?” And I decided to dive in head first.
That dive has taken me places I never thought imaginable. I have been the recipient of a scholarship in my role as student trustee. This scholarship has eased the financial burden for my mom, and it helped me know that hard work truly pays off. I have not only been able to expand my knowledge but also grow as a person in and out of the classroom. I have been able to travel and brainstorm with other great minds from other community colleges on how to better the lives of our students. I have also been given the honor of speaking to my fellow classmates as I was chosen to be the 2016 student speaker for commencement.
All of these experiences made me discover the theme of “follow your fear.” Comedian Grace Helbig once described fear and divided it into two groups. The first group includes real fears: sharks, snakes, small places and statistical exams. Then there’s the other fear: good fear. Good fear is a fear that is created out of caring about something or someone so much. It’s there when you’re too scared to take a path because it seems too unlikely, too unpredictable and too uncomfortable. It is when you have a fear of public speaking and end up in front of hundreds of people giving a commencement speech.
That is the beauty, though, with good fear. It is an opportunity to take the road less traveled and grasp possibilities you never would have imagined possible. What is the fun in life if you stay in your comfort zone, never knowing what could have been because you were scared to fail? We should never be disheartened by the fear of failure.
Remember, at age 23, Oprah was fired from her first reporting job. At age 28, J.K. Rowling – my favorite author – was a suicidal single parent living on welfare. Henry Ford failed and went broke five times. Michael Jordan was cut from his high school basketball team, and Thomas Edison failed a thousand times before successfully inventing the light bulb.
Lincoln Land Community College helps students follow our fear and achieve our dreams.
Madison Baker, a 2016 graduate of Lincoln Land Community College, served as the student speaker at Commencement Ceremonies in May. She also served one year as the student trustee on the LLCC Board of Trustees.