Change is inevitable. Growth is optional.

“Change is inevitable. Growth is optional.”

~ John C. Maxwell

It’s quite simple: in life the places you live and the people you know will inevitably change. You will change as an individual throughout the years, but how you develop and grow as a professional is up to you. That is when your own initiative and passion come into play. And that’s the biggest lesson I learned this summer.

This was the quote I lived and breathed this summer while I was interning at Columbia University’s School of Continuing Education. I was a resident assistant and program assistant to Columbia’s prestigious Summer Program for High School Students. This was by far the most exhausting but the most rewarding experience of my life.

I was a role model for 2,000+ high school students, most of which were international students. These were the most brilliant kids I have ever met and learned just as much from them as they learned from me.

I engaged the students with the incredible culture of New York City by organizing and facilitating dozens of excursions, including a broadway trip to see Finding Neverland, yoga class on the Hudson River, a trip to the High Line Park, two Yankee games and a Mets game to name a few.

I got to participate as a mock juror for the Trial Advocacy class the students took. It turns out that the federal court room we used for the day was the same courtroom the 9/11 trials took place. It was beyond humbling to see these brilliant kids in real courtroom.

I learned what teamwork truly means with my 115 co-workers under an amazing and supportive head staff.

Mostly, I learned that you must push yourself outside of your comfort zone to truly grow as an individual and a professional. I never could see myself, a girl who grew up in a typical suburb and attends a large, public university in a suburban neighborhood succeeding in a small, private university in the Upper West Side. But, I was surprised by how much I learned about myself and my ethics this summer than I ever have before, and that was all because I took a leap of faith and applied to a position I knew would be a whole new challenge for me.

Sure, change is inevitable in life. But you only truly grow when you seek the opportunities that seem unreachable or seek a new challenge that seems impossible to overcome. So grab a hold of those opportunities and don’t ever let go.

Push your boundaries.

~ Alyssa Rametta