These past four years at Emory have granted me everything I wanted, though I did not know what all was to come. As a freshman, I was excited about all of the new possibilities at hand. I am so proud of myself for taking a courageous step towards my future. As early as my first semester on campus, I held leadership positions. I actively sought out ways to be involved and serve my community while building my confidence. Each club and organization I dedicated my time towards was an intentional decision as their purpose aligned with my own values.

Emory has taught me to value relationships, extracurriculars and social events just as much as my academic path. I continuously pushed myself to achieve everything I believed in and more. I have learned the value of viewing college as a holistic experience. The ability to learn is always at your fingertips; therefore, you have to capitalize on any

The relationships I formed were more than necessary to get to graduation day. First, I want to thank my friends: together, we overcame so many challenges. Next, my professors, who have been patient and compassionate. I couldn’t ask for a better support group. Even from faculty members who saw my potential when I did not see it myself, especially those at my work-study job — the women there impacted me tremendously and were true role models. And lastly, I cannot forget my family, who loved me from afar and whose presence I felt every step of the way.

Overall, Emory has given me everything I needed. Every moment spent here has been one to cherish. I want to encourage Emory students to follow these pieces of advice:
1: Don’t be afraid to fall in love with new things, and seize every opportunity to learn something new.
2: Do everything with your heart because then you will always succeed.
3: Be present in every moment, and always give your best.

Emory shaped me into a more courageous version of myself, and I am now ready to conquer many new adventures.

Zakiya Collier is a student activist from Chicago, Illinois. She served as the president of Emory’s NAACP chapter, the president of the Alpha Tau chapter of Zheta Phi Beta Sorority and a MORE mentor in the Office of RACE. After graduation, she will be working at a nonprofit.