Rachel Morrow was someone I knew was amazing, before I even called her by best friend. The first time I met her something about her made me want to impress her. Years after, every time I saw her at a social function, she radiated confidence. She was the person everyone seemed to be talking to, having a good time, and just so carefree. Fate would have it that our stars would align, and we finally became friends on my 22nd birthday. As a got to know her, and we became best friends, I learned just how amazing she truly was. Rachel is someone I look up to in almost every facet of my life. She is the definition of a go-getter; someone who knows what she wants and works her butt off to get it. I’m so honored to have her in my life as a best friend. I may be selfish, but I firmly believe that Rachel’s amazingness is not something I can keep to myself. She inspires me so much and I know it doesn’t end with me.
Degrees – Bachelor’s of Art in Communication Arts & Sciences, Penn State 2013
Masters of Art in Organizational Leadership Candidate, Alvernia 2017
Organization/Extracurricular – Executive Secretary/Treasurer of the Penn State Berks Alumni Board, a volunteer with Habitat for Humanity Berks County Chapter, Owner of J.Maximum Photography
How and where do you find motivation?
I always have a goal in mind or something that I want to accomplish. I find it’s important to have a clear goal you want to accomplish to create a plan to reach the goal. No matter what you tell yourself there is always a goal or reason behind everything you do. One goal I am currently working on is waking up earlier. I found a podcast, that I will mention below, that gave some great tips. One tip was to have a goal for why you want to wake up earlier or you will not be motivated. Once I have a clear goal set I work towards achieving it through trial and error, networking by talking to others who have either accomplished a similar goal or friends/family. I also look up a lot on Youtube or do a poll on Facebook.
How do you decide what move to make next? (school, work, etc.)
I am very goal orientated, I’m constantly looking for what I can do next. After I graduated from Penn State I knew I wanted to pursue a graduate degree but I was unclear on what program I wanted to study. It took me a year and a half to find a program that would fit my future professional goals and was versatile to many career paths. My biggest fear is stagnation. I’m afraid I will get stuck or comfortable, lose the desire to continue to grow, learn new things or succeed. My next goal, (I told you I was goal oriented,) is to focus on today and perfect my current self. Worrying about what’s next is great but it can be a major setback because you lose sight of what is going on now. Finding that balance is extremely hard and is bliss if you can get there.
How do you maintain work/life/activities balance?
Currently, I work full time, take two courses a semester and stay involved with my alma mater and the community. The best way that I manage my time is leaving work at work! I do not take my work laptop home every day. I do my best to accomplish all I can in the 8-hour timeframe I have. On occasion, I do work an hour or two a month when it’s busy. It took me awhile to realize that I might not accomplish everything in one day or one sitting. It’s actually refreshing to stop doing a task and then revisit it another time with fresh eyes. When it comes to school, I prioritize everything based on due date and complexity. A large project (paper, presentation, etc) I will set aside one to two weeks to work on it either a few hours a night or until I reach a desired amount of content. Other smaller assignments I keep for the weekend when I’m not extremely exhausted from work and other weekday demands. Some nights I don’t fall asleep until midnight or 1 AM to make sure an assignment is completed. It’s a sacrifice for a long-term gain. During the time I’m not doing schoolwork or at my full-time job, I enjoy volunteering, spending time with friends and family, binge watching TV shows, spending time with my fur babies, working out… I mean the list can go on forever. The key is knowing what you want to do in the 24 hours you are given in a day and then just doing it!
When do you think it is okay to break the rules?
One thing I always say is “I make my own rules.” You are in control of your life, create the rules, bend the rules, break them. If you want more time to go to the gym DO IT. Create a plan and stick do it. If the plan you made isn’t fitting or getting you close to the goal, change the plan, bend the rules. Be the master of your life and take control.
What values are you committed to?
I value diversity. I am Philly born so I love other cultures, customs, and especially different food. What makes me upset is when people who aren’t exposed to diversity (culturally speaking) pass judgment rather than trying to understand or ask questions to learn. I value knowledge and education. I love learning, I just love it! Education is the key to life. There is so much to learn and things to experience. Educating others is also something I value. If you are acknowledgeable about something don’t be selfish with the information. Share it with everyone. Then in exchange, you can learn something from someone else.
I value self-love. It’s a shame there are so many people who don’t value themselves. They are caught up in how society defines everything when you are creating the rules. Also, others who want and are waiting for someone to love them when the person they should be loving is themselves. It’s beautiful when you put yourself first when you care for yourself when you wake up and look yourself in the mirror and say “I LOVE YOU!” That is when you will attract the love of others because you will radiate confidence and happiness. Lastly, I value “listening to understand” not “listening to respond.” When someone is talking to you about an experience or their day, don’t spin it off on you and talk about yourself. Let the other person speak and vent. Ask them follow-up questions to bring out more from them. It shows you care about them. Once they are done, you can offer a personal experience to relate or transition into a new topic. I’m so tired of hearing people trying to one-up each other. “Oh your day was bad, well my day was worse…”
Any time you took a risk that paid off?
Wow, this is a heavy question. I took a risk coming to Penn State Berks for school. I left Philly, which is only an hour and a half away. I left everything I was accustomed to. I left my job at Modell’s to focus just on college. I lived on campus with a roommate which I had never had. It was the biggest culture shock of my life. Interacting with people from all over the country, with different walks of life, some more privileged than others. I remember going to Panera for the first time broke as a joke since I thought it would be cool to not work during my first year of school. I was the only one in my group of “friends” at the time who couldn’t afford an $11 sandwich and soup. Not a single person offered to buy me a meal. I just sat there.
It was life changing, it was a risk I took. But I would never change it. Going to Penn State and coming to Berks County has shaped my life as I know it. This has been home. I remember weekends going to Philly to visit family and being eager to come back to campus to my dorm room, to my home. Since then I have lived in the Reading area since 2011. I have met lifelong friends here, jump-started my career, found myself, will be finishing two degrees in Berks County. Honestly, I can’t picture anywhere else being home.
Any lessons you had to learn the hard way?
My entire life has been learning the hard way. Learning how to adult has literally been a juggling act of falling several times and then picking myself back up. Learning about credit, how to open bank accounts, move to a different apartment/house every year, apply for jobs, financial aid for school, buy a car, literally EVERYTHING. My freshman year of college I got in trouble for using Limewire (you remember that.) As a result, my dorm room internet and wifi access got cut off for two weeks. I had to go to the library every night to do math homework (MyMathLab) until 11:59 when the library closed. I also had to write an essay about what I did wrong and meet with the judicial head. About a week before that, I had gotten an email that my account was on hold because I owed Penn State money for tuition. So here I am sitting in the judicial head’s office and she asks me how my first semester in college is going and I burst into tears. I have no wifi, I might have to drop out because I have no money, I can’t even afford Panera! Despite getting that email, I hadn’t reached out to anyone to find out what I can do or how I can get help. I let it build up but thankfully the judicial lady helped me. She reached out to financial aid and just like that, my tuition was up to date and paid. Imagine had I not been dumb and downloaded that music from Limewire, I would be back in Philly living in my parents’ house.
What are you most proud of?
I’m most proud how far I’ve come personally and professionally despite the many roadblocks I faced and continue to encounter. I came from nothing; neither of my parents has a college degree, my mom is an immigrant. I had no guidance from my family about going to college; at one point I was failing high school. Somewhere I got this motivation and determination to succeed. Success to me was not being on the block, not following the norm, not being stuck. And I did it, I’m doing it. And if I can you can too!
What do you want to be remembered for?
This is taken right from my personal development plan I created throughout my graduate program.
My mission statement: My mission in life is to help others through the means of leadership, education, and mentorship. I believe in sharing my wealth of knowledge with the masses. I will not be selfish with information and keep it to myself. I will teach and lead by example and share my experiences with others. That’s what I want to be remembered for.
What books have most impacted your life? (If any, if not podcasts, movies, documentaries, etc)
Skinny Bitch – Rory Freedman & Kim Barnouin
Lean In – Sheryl Sandberg
Why we have too few women leaders – Sheryl Sandberg
What I learned from 100 days of rejection – Jia Jiang
The person you really need to marry – Tracy McMillan
Looks aren’t everything. Believe me, I’m a model – Cameron Russell
5 ways to lead in an era of constant change – Jim Hemerling
TED Radio Hour: The Meaning of Work, The Money Paradox, Disruptive Leadership, Spoken and Unspoken
Hidden Figures – 2016