One of the worst parts of growing older is that I can no longer say “I just graduated from college” anymore, especially since I earned my diploma from Baylor four years ago today! I am quite literally aghast that my college years came to a close four years ago and that I’m also somehow 26 years old with four years of working experience. Who am I if not a teen girl? While it feels like I only recently graduated from college, I’ve also worked and learned and grown immensely over the past many, many moons. My life isn’t what I expected it to be like when I was dreaming about the future as a senior at Baylor—working for a nonprofit and rooming with my best friend Brandon in New York City a lá Abbi and Ilana from Broad City—thanks to three plus years of COVID and life/priority changes, but I’m learning to accept that what I wanted in 2018-19 may not be where I end up. I loved writing the one, two, and three year recaps of my life since college and wanted to continue with this summary of this past year—four years after graduation as my final one since I only spent four years in school!
After I graduated, I was lucky enough to earn a freelance position covering high school football for the Honolulu Star-Advertiser and Hawaii Prep World under my wonderful former editor Billy. I attended and wrote about different high school football games every Friday and Saturday night in the dark and often rain, driving home as quickly as possible so I could send in my recaps and box scores to the full time staff. I loved writing for the newspaper and I was extremely lucky to be given the job every season until last Fall when I stopped due to my newest full time position. Although my freelance writing job wasn’t a full time salaried position, I will always be indebted to Billy for allowing me to write without any real experience. That job truly saved my life when I was in the darkest pit immediately after graduation when I thought I would never be hired anywhere! I applied for 100+ full time jobs for months after I returned home, unsure of when or if I’d ever interview or receive/accept an offer. After submitting so many applications and mostly being ghosted, I spiraled deeply and wanted to un*live myself as I felt I had no options. It didn’t help that Brandon was gone for a few months and I was extraordinarily homesick for Waco and my best friends Jonathan and Lo who still live there. However, after I interviewed at four different workplaces (100+ applications for only a few responses!), I finally accepted a role in the legal sector. Four months after I graduated, I worked a three month stint at the Legal Aid Society of Hawaiʻi as an Outreach Specialist/Pro Bono Coordinator assisting COFA community members with health insurance registration. I learned about health insurance options, how to sign up, the impossible process of registering without required documents, and how most people absolutely cannot afford even the “cheapest” options. Legal Aid wasn’t my forever job and I left after three months, but I worked for two especially kind and encouraging bosses—Sergio and Connie—who supported me even while I was leaving and in our interactions after.
One of the biggest and most rewarding risks I took four years postgrad was leaving my job at Legal Aid after three months to work for the Office of the Public Defender in January 2020. I’ve spoken about the reasons why I wanted to leave so quickly in this post and in several other blog posts, but the primary reason was because I wanted to be a public defender at the time, and the office was exactly what I wanted after college. I snagged my OPD job as a Legal Clerk because I went through a temporary hiring agency the summer I returned home and interviewed at private law firm with the kindest attorney, Craig, who offered me a secretary position I really didn’t want. Thankfully even though I rejected the offer, he asked me if I was still interested in public defense (I mentioned that in our interview) and if I would like him to connect me to a former Deputy PD who might be able to get me in the door. He literally changed my life! After meeting with the former PD, she called the current State PD James (my former boss) to share my resume with him. I didn’t hear back from James or anyone at the office after my resume was sent to him, which was why I accepted the Legal Aid position. Thankfully, James called me in December 2019 to interview at the office and one week later, he offered me the Legal Clerk job. I was assigned to the Felony division and was switched over to Appeals in March 2020 right before COVID struck and the state “shut down.” I remained a Legal Clerk with Appeals and was cross trained to help in Family and District until June 2021. I loved my Legal Clerk duties and I especially loved and was good at running the Appeals calendar. However, I was lucky enough to earn a promotion and leave the clerical staff as the Community Outreach Court Coordinator primarily helping homeless clients clear their fines and fees through community service and connect to some social services. The position was exactly what I wanted at the time and it helped me blossom and grow into a more independent worker. I coordinated every part of the specialty court process and was the point of contact for every client who rotated in and graduated. I was honored to meet with clients at outreaches and walk them through the court system while advocating on their behalf, and if there had been any room at all for professional growth, I would have stayed in that role/program forever. In between my many office moves, I began and quit working as the Administrative and Communications Liaison for Hawaiʻi Peace and Justice from 2020-2022 and became the Spring Sports Editor covering Baylor men’s and women’s tennis for Our Daily Bears.
After a little over one year as COC Coordinator, I accepted a new position in an entirely different field where I’m now working for a private company creating strategies to assist low- to moderate-income customers. I’ve been in my role for 9 months and I’ve met so many new people and worked on different projects and assignments. I’m often scared that I’m messing up and/or not living up to the expectations my bosses have of me, but I’m gaining a variety of exciting experiences and knowledge while I hopefully create room to truly help people who need it. I work with extremely kind people who are always willing to help me, I work on a hybrid schedule, I make a lot more money than I did in my early years after college, and I have far more room to grow and change. I’m not looking to move to New York City any time soon (if at all) because I realized that living with or near my family and friends (except for Yonny and Lo who are still far away, but who I will hopefully get to visit at least once a year 🙂 is what’s most important to me. Having a thrilling NYC life with Brandon would’ve been amazing, but I’m thankful that we’re both here at home with our other best friends and my family whom I love more than anything in the world. I’ve also found a lifelong partner who is good to me and the people I love and I’m more than content with the life we have together surrounded by 6+ pets! My newest life goal is to retire by the time I’m 40 (or at least retire from a busy corporate job so I can go back to OPD and become a Legal Clerk again) or as early as possible so I can focus on what I really love doing while remaining financially free. I want to keep helping people by providing them with money and other resources as my partner I currently do for our pod of houseless friends and I want to cook and spend time with my loved ones and rest and travel and take care of animals and shop secondhand and decorate my home and do nothing all day without worrying about money. I’ve prioritized saving and investing and paying off my student loans as quickly as possible (I’ll pay off my private loans in 18 months!), which is a sacrifice right now that will hopefully benefit me in the long run. In last year’s summary of three years postgrad I wrote about all of the different huge jobs I wanted, but now I know that I don’t want to work and will spend all of my time earning and saving to reach that goal! I’m lucky to have so many people I love around me and to have experienced different careers and roles in such a short four years. Although I’m not where I thought I’d be at this point in my life, I’m happy and satisfied with everything I have, and I wouldn’t want anything else.