Advice from an almost MTSU alumna

Maddy Williams sits in the horseshoe in Middle Tennessee State University's Walnut Grove. (Photo by Maddy Williams)

By: Maddy Williams 

I can’t even fathom that I’m writing this article right now—my final story for MTSU News, my goodbye to MTSU. It feels surreal. 

My time at MTSU flew by, and I’m so grateful for everything I’ve learned, the people I’ve met and the opportunities I’ve been given. 

Rewinding to my senior year of high school, I needed to figure out what college was best for me. I grew up in Murfreesboro, so I wasn’t sure if I wanted to move further away from home. I’m so glad I decided to stay. 

I had taken many dual enrollment courses through MTSU, which gave me college credits before I graduated high school. That allowed for an easy transition to MTSU, and I’d graduate almost a year early. 

Not only that, but MTSU gave me a full ride. Going to college debt-free has always been a goal of mine, so I was incredibly swayed by the amazing scholarships that MTSU offers its students. 

I definitely recommend high schoolers apply themselves in their classes and on the ACT because MTSU rewards students for their hard work. 

I worked for my high school newspaper for three years, which inspired me to choose journalism as my major. However, I was stuck on what to minor in. 

(Photo by Maddy Williams)
(Photo by Maddy Williams)

I knew I wanted to study abroad when I went to college. I had always dreamed of studying in England since I was 16. Because of this, I chose global studies as my minor. I learned about other cultures, which I was extremely passionate about, while also requiring me to study abroad—the best requirement ever. 

During my freshman year, I had a professor named Corey Perkins for my Introduction to Cross Cultural Experiences class. He was leading a summer group trip to Peru. I had never considered traveling there before, but I knew I had to go when he showed us pictures of the beautiful landscape. 

Through the amazing study abroad office, the College of Liberal Arts, the College of Media and Entertainment and my part-time serving job, I could fully fund my study abroad trip to Peru. I am so grateful to MTSU for giving me these scholarships to fulfill my dream of studying abroad. 

Going to Peru was incredible. I met local university students, one of whom I’m still friends with, hiked Rainbow Mountain, tried Peruvian food, and saw dunes in Paracas. It was an experience like no other. 

After that first trip, my soul was set on fire for travel. I had caught the travel bug and knew I didn’t want my study abroad journey to stop there. I immediately began applying for a new trip—this one much longer. I applied for the semester abroad trip to Manchester, England, for the following spring semester. 

My 16-year-old dream of studying in England came true. Because MTSU allows exchange students to pay MTSU tuition, I was able to afford this trip. I was also awarded study abroad scholarships, which helped me pay for housing and my flights. 

This experience was incredible. I made many friends, traveled the United Kingdom and Europe and studied journalism in Media City, right by BBC News and ITV. 

Living abroad for five months taught me so much. I discovered more about myself, became more independent, experienced life outside of my hometown and learned to be far less directionally challenged, which has always been a struggle of mine. 

Fast forward to my senior year, and I’m getting ready to study abroad again this summer in Costa Rica with Professor Perkins. He invited me on another trip, and while I hadn’t planned to study abroad again, I’m so excited about the opportunity. 

On this trip, I will stay with a local Costa Rican family, go on a zipline tour, meet local wildlife, and learn about Indigenous culture. I can’t wait for this immersive experience. 

(Photo by Maddy Willams)
(Photo by Maddy Willams)

I wouldn’t be who I am without the support of the many amazing faculty in the School of Journalism and Strategic Media and the College of Liberal Arts. My professors have pushed me and refined my skills in ways I never could have anticipated. With their guidance, I am the writer and global citizen I am today. 

I’m also incredibly grateful to my advisor, Leann McBride. She has always made time for me to help me map out my course load, offering suggestions she thought I’d enjoy and making sure I had everything I needed throughout the semester. She also helped me plan my study abroad trips, so I’m very grateful to her. 

Writing and doing social media for Sidelines has also been a joy. Through this student media organization, I found such an amazing community of friends and coworkers, and I am so sad to be leaving! I have worked for Sidelines since my freshman year, and I have grown so much as a writer and communicator. 

Lastly, I’m incredibly grateful to MTSU’s Division of Marketing and Communications for letting me join the team. I have loved improving my digital marketing and writing skills. It’s truly been a blast, and I wouldn’t have found my love for marketing without it.  

Entering the workforce is intimidating, but I know MTSU has set me up for success with all the tools and skills I need to get a job I love. I truly cannot thank MTSU enough for giving me everything I’ve wanted and more in a university. I’m ending these past three years as a world traveler, strong communicator and talented writer.  

I’m so thankful for everyone who helped me along my academic journey at MTSU. I can’t say it enough. 

If I could give advice to incoming freshmen, it would be to soak up everything MTSU has to offer. Follow your passions and listen to yourself. Join student organizations and get involved. Don’t sweat the small stuff. Those late nights at the library will pay off in the end. It all flies by in the blink of an eye. 

Maddy Williams is a senior majoring in Journalism in MTSU’s College of Media and Entertainment.