Congrats to the Class of 2023: Advice For Them and My Younger Self


By Christina Steed

This past weekend, I had the pleasure of attending DePaul University’s graduation ceremony. I hadn’t attended before even though I’ve been an adjunct professor since 2019. The stars aligned. I was in town. And I was able to secure some ceremony regalia last minute. I was also able to make it to my storage unit to dig out my Master’s hood from my Mizzou graduation (shout out Tigers!).

It was a little weird but cool being on the other side of the procession. This time I was faculty, marching into the Wintrust Arena and taking my seat on stage along with my fellow professors. I felt grown, grown. And I also felt excited to look out at the faces of those students, some of whom were mine, who worked so hard and looked overjoyed to achieve this final milestone. The start of their careers and journeys.

The ceremony began and when I looked up at the second speaker to take the stage and address the crowd, I was shocked (in a good way) and taken back to my younger years. Before me stood my high school principal who was now a member of faculty at DePaul. This was the person who handed me my first diploma. I would go on to earn two degrees and am currently contemplating my final road to Ph.D. Boulevard. It made me reflect on my younger self and what I might impart to her all these years and lessons later. So, check out the missive below and let me know what you think.

Congratulations again to the Class of 2023 and shout out to all my mentees who I feel so proud to guide on their respective paths. Cheers!

Dear 21-year-old self,

Congratulations on making it this far! You have accomplished a lot already! Award-winning communications expert, TV show host, writer, professor, fellow, and chairman…girl, who knew?! I guess you always did; you just had to Believe (shout out to Ted Lasso). But there is still so much more to learn and achieve as you’ve embraced being a student of life over and over again through trials and triumphs. Here are some pieces of advice that I wish I had known when I was your age:

  1. Don’t be afraid to take risks: You are young and have nothing to lose. If you have a dream or a goal, go for it. Don’t let fear hold you back. I know you still grapple with this, but you’re making great progress. Fear not.
  2. Network, network, network: Building relationships is key to success in any field, especially the one you’ve chosen. Attend events, join professional organizations, and connect with people on LinkedIn. You never know who might be able to help you in the future. And given you are a loud and proud introvert, do it your own way. Cameo appearances and one-on-ones become your thing!
  3. Be open to feedback: No one is perfect, and there is always room for improvement. Listen to constructive criticism and use it to grow and develop. Don’t let perfection be the enemy of progress. Just do it!
  4. Invest in yourself: Take courses, attend conferences, and read books to expand your knowledge and skills. The more you invest in yourself, the more valuable you will be to employers and clients. And you’re a book nerd.
  5. Don’t compare yourself to others: Everyone has their own journey and timeline. Focus on your own goals and progress, and don’t worry about what others are doing. They’re not thinking ’bout you anyway, baby girl! And if they’re hatin’, let them hate.
  6. Take care of your health: Your physical and mental health are crucial to your success and happiness. Make time for exercise, healthy eating, and self-care. Your love of yoga, Pilates, and bike riding early in life will serve you well.
  7. Embrace failure: Failure is not the end of the world. It is an opportunity to learn and grow. Don’t be afraid to try new things and take risks, even if you might fail. You either win or learn. Period, pooh!
  8. Find a mentor: Having someone who has been through what you are going through can be invaluable. Look for someone who can offer guidance, support, and advice. Your mentor will come in the form of your husband, and you also develop a peer group who serve as your board of directors.
  9. Be persistent: Success rarely comes overnight. Keep working hard and don’t give up, even when things get tough. But also, know when you’ve done enough, your best, and let God do the rest.
  10. Enjoy the journey: Life is not just about achieving goals. It is also about the experiences and relationships along the way. Take time to appreciate the small moments and enjoy the ride.

I hope these tips are helpful for you as you navigate your career and life. Remember, you are capable of achieving great things. Believe in yourself and keep pushing forward.


Your older and wiser self

Christina P.C. Steed, M.A. is an award-winning marketing communication expert whose experience includes business development, client relations, diversity, equity and inclusion, and internal and external marketing communications. Christina is an adjunct professor and professional fellow in the College of Communication with a focus on multicultural marketing communications at DePaul University as well as serves on the dean’s advisory board. This post also appears on Christina’s blog.

Graduation feature photo by Albert Vincent Wu on Unsplash

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