Meet Serenity Strothers
College and Major: Bowie State University ‘21, Criminal Justice
Workshop: University of Maryland, Baltimore County, 2017
Workshop Roles: Peer Support Specialist – Washington College, 2019
Though her college journey has not been a walk in the park, Serenity is still pursuing her dreams of earning a degree. Read on to hear her thoughts on staying resilient through the college application process, transfers, and balancing work and life.
What was your first PeerForward experience?
I took a College Summit course in my junior year of high school. I was excited to learn about how to make my dream of being a college student a reality. I became a PeerForward Peer Leader during my senior year because I wanted to be surrounded by people who had the same motivation as I did.
What were some of the challenges you faced while pursuing a degree?
While attending York College of Pennsylvania, I could not find a co-signer for a loan. I had to consider if I wanted to remain in school or stop altogether. At first, I was very disappointed that my process was not going as planned, but when I talked to my younger sibling, she told me, “If you have a plan, stick to it so you can see the purpose behind it.” I was super inspired; I decided to stick to my dream of having a four-year college experience.
After that experience, how did you find a college that fits?
I chose Bowie State because it was affordable, and I received a scholarship.
I had a checklist of things I wanted for sure, things that I would be okay with not having, and things I wanted to accomplish. So, with that checklist, I checked the website for Bowie State; I looked up programs and events and even talked to friends that attended the school. Talking to people about how they chose Bowie and learning about the process is important. Initially, I overlooked Bowie because I felt like I would know most people there, but it’s definitely more diverse than I expected.
Ultimately, I saw myself attending Bowie State University and I was grateful that I would be able to continue my postsecondary education.
What advice do you have for those who have to transfer unexpectedly?
Trust the process. I feel like it is kind of cliché’ but when you feel like something did not go the way you wanted it to go, you have to trust the process and know that there is always a comeback for that situation. Something may not always start off the way you expect it to, but if it’s something that you desire wholeheartedly, trust the process and keep on going until you have reached that destination.
For students that feel overwhelmed by balancing school and work, what’s your advice? How do you take care of yourself?
I’m still trying to figure that out (laughs). I have a lot of times where it can be overwhelming, so one thing I do to help combat that is being organized. I feel like it has helped me find downtime.
A lot of days it’s frustration, it’s wanting to be strong, and most definitely brainstorming, too. I am a person who digs deep into reality instead of thinking about what could be. So, I make goals and hope that I can reach them. Planning things out to a tee helps me to stay focused. Whether it’s going to get another tattoo or grabbing lunch. It allows me to dream bigger and gives me room to leverage my power in alignment with my purpose. Doing this puts my mind at ease because I am excited about where I am going, and I like being proud of myself and keeping commitments.
What personal growth have you experienced with PeerForward that helps you when you go back to college?
The feeling of hope. Feeling open-minded and being in awe with experiencing life in general. A deeper connection not only with life but feeling genuinely excited about internal growth and moving forward in life. Recreating that same passion and eagerness to learn every day. PeerForward was an eye-opening experience that I just fell in love with.