started from the bottom, now we’re here


photo cred:  samuel david photography


when i think about what it took to get me from my days spent at preschool in compton to where i am sitting now with two degrees from santa clara university, the first song that comes to mind is “started from the bottom” by drake.  and it is not just the song, it is the energy in the music video and the acknowledgement of it not always being all bright and shiny, but now there are far more days like that due to the work that was put in.


between working at a high school and being someone that is active on social media, i am surrounded by posts about graduation.  in my wrap up meetings with some of my seniors, i was asked what i would tell 17 year old me.  i was also asked about what i would have done differently whether it be in undergrad or grad school.  while there is not a ton i would change about undergrad, there are definitely some things about my time spent in grad school that i would modify.



photo cred:  samuel david photography


i would tell 17 year old me that undergrad is a stepping stone and not the end all be all.  there is no need to be perfect because that is a made up concept that will lead to feeling disappointed when i should be excited about meeting amazing people who will become my family, have research opportunities typically reserved for phd students and the real need to hustle will come into play during grad school.  i would remind myself to stop and smell the roses – both literally and figuratively as they are scattered all over santa clara’s gorgeous campus.  undergrad really time full of growth and change – and if you take the time to embrace it, it can be magical.



photo cred:  samuel david photography


even though the shot above is not only dope af but truly a joy filled moment worth celebrating (since i was just days away from walking across stage to accept my master’s degree), it really does not capture how my four years of grad school went.  did i meet phenomenal humans who are actively changing the world we live in? yes.  did i take classes that forced me to step outside of my comfort zone, do a great deal of reflection and reassess all of my relationships whether it be with family, friends or a partner?  yes. did i get to start using the skills learned inside of the classroom with actual clients?  yes.


while all of those things were important to me in regards to what i wanted to accomplish in a grad program, i do not feel like i was adequately warned or prepared for the minimal time i would have for myself since i chose to essentially work full time while going to grad school.  i made that choice because i was set on having less than $100,000 of debt between undergrad and grad school.  this meant that i needed to work tons of hours to be able to keep costs lower for grad school.  i did something many would call unconventional but at the time, i felt it necessary.  i worked three jobs for the bulk of grad school and four jobs in the final year.  that final year almost broke me and it is not like i was rested going into the most intense year of it all.  it was not just intense because a fourth job was added but because the fourth job would be me seeing clients for the first time ever – definitely not something i should be exhausted going into.


recently, i heard an audio clip from steve harvey’s show in which he stated:

“success is not a comfortable procedure.  it is a very uncomfortable thing to attempt.  you gotta get comfortable being uncomfortable if you wanna be successful.”

now, i am not the biggest steve harvey fan but i agreed with all of the aforementioned.  i should have just stuck with my gut because what he followed it up with goes against so much of what i know to be true:

“rich people don’t sleep eight hours a day. that’s a third of your life.  there ain’t but 24 hours in a day.  you cannot be sleep eight hours a day.”


now listen.  if i could go back, i would work less and have a bit more debt to pay off.  not only would it be more fair to me but it would have been more fair to all of the clients i worked with.  in retrospect, they were getting maybe 80% of what they should have been from me because that is all i had to give.  i also realized that i did a number on my body during that year.  that sleep deprivation played a role in so many things, including weight gain, higher blood pressure and anxiety.  even if i was not eating like trash, i was not eating the proper portions and i definitely was eating at all hours of the day and night since i was awake and would be hungry.  in the long run, my health is of the utmost importance, especially if i want to be around for a long time.  during that final year of grad school, i would average 3-5 hours of sleep per night.  if i was lucky/on a saturday night, i would get 5-7 hours.  i now know that 7 is my magic number when  it comes to hours of sleep per night.  with 7 hours, i am energetic without caffeine, am in a good mood and do not need a nap.  i try my best now to get as close to that as possible both for me and the clients i work with daily.  it has made a substantial difference.


i believe that success is more about time management and prioritization than people realize – that also includes self-prioritization and that is not something i will apologize for anymore.  if i am not taking care of me, i cannot aid in teaching people how to take care of themselves.


i now realize that it is not just about getting to the top but being able to stay there and enjoy it.  that is only possible if i am taking care of myself.


with graduation around the corner, what advice would you give yourself?



k, tap

3 thoughts on “started from the bottom, now we’re here

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