How is it already September? I swear I just ended my first year of the CSSA program and already I’m getting ready to enter my second year. I’m a second-year CSSA grad student! Woo-HOO!

I had an amazing summer. I was able to complete four internship credits, work part-time on campus, write for the student newspaper, and enjoy the beautiful Oregon landscapes with my puppy. After a couple months of rest and relaxation…well….some rest and a little bit of relaxation, I feel ready to conquer year number two. I’m looking forward to co-teaching a U-Engage course called Money Matters for one of my internships, helping coordinate the Nonprofit Volunteer and Internship Expo for a project credit, and working on my graduate portfolio (which I haven’t started! EEK!). As a student who gets all of her assignments done weeks in advance, this is very unlike me to have delayed working on my portfolio this summer, but I think I just needed some time to really think about what I learned last year and digest it properly in order to coherently write about it in my portfolio (that little thing I need to complete to graduate from CSSA in June!).

On top of completing some of my CSSA requirements this summer, I had some time to myself to rediscover my interests outside of school. I started running again, cooking healthy vegan and vegetarian meals, reading non-academic books for fun, and of course I volunteered as much as I could. In fact, I already completed my 300 hours of service for the Students in Service program.  I hope that I will have the time to continue running and cooking next year. I remember when I got accepted to OSU and was so excited to work out at Dixon on the elliptical machines that create energy and climb the rock walls after class. Last year I sadly went to Dixon maybe three times and never used the elliptical machine and didn’t climb a rock wall either. Although this upcoming year will likely be busier than last year, I intend to take my refreshed outlook from summer and focus on work-life balance throughout the year…even with a graduate portfolio and added responsibilities in my internships, projects, committees, and assistantship…and of course a five month-old puppy waiting for me to get home to play!

Thinking about the future is exciting, but I don’t want to think too far ahead just yet. It’s easy to start thinking about what type of job I’ll look at applying for when I graduate or whether I’ll apply for the Peace Corps or AmeriCorps*NCCC. I think it’s exciting because I know how much I love what I do and I look forward to being able to do it as a full-time professional. I haven’t even begun year two, yet I’m already thinking about earning a graduate certificate in non-profit management or applying to the Clinton School of Public Service at the University of Arkansas. Little Rock? Why not? Surely I’m not ready for these steps, but it will be fun to think about closer to graduation. It’s strange how I sat in Wisconsin waiting to move to Corvallis so I could start the CSSA program and I’m already sitting in Corvallis wondering where I’ll go next. Fortunately for me, even if jobs are scarce when I graduate, I will happily become a full-time volunteer. Life has always ended up pointing me in the right direction (with a plethora of forks in the road) and I imagine wherever I end up, I’ll be where I’m supposed to be.

-Courtney Nikolay