Stepping foot onto any college campus for the first time can be overwhelming for new students. These first steps represent more than putting shoe to ground. They represent the first moments of putting one’s best foot forward towards the next four years of collegiate success.
DaChana Blaydes, Broad College of Business student (BA Human Resources Management ’18), understands the struggle college students feel when balancing academics, extra-curricular activities, career development, financial literacy, and wellness. Using her personal experiences to help incoming freshmen and fellow college students, Blaydes wrote and published Your College Success in Your Hands: College with a Purpose.
When asked what she wants readers to take away most from this book, Blaydes’ answer was direct: “to live with purpose.”
Blaydes’ inspiration to write her book stemmed from her passion to find her own purpose. She began mentoring students when she became a residential assistant (RA) in the dorms at Michigan State University. With the resources she had as an RA, Blaydes invested time to help students achieve their goals. After seeing the positive influence her mentorship had on students, Blaydes wanted to make a bigger impact. However, she realized she was just one person. Not willing to accept defeat, Blaydes found a way to reach her desired target audience and in turn help more students by publishing her book.
College with a purpose, to Blaydes, means knowing “why” when it comes to all aspects of your life and higher education. Blaydes states, “Everybody is a student, and everybody is a teacher the way I see it.” You must teach yourself to learn along the way what is important to you and what motivates you.
Early in her college career, Blaydes realized goals, like wanting good grades in classes, were insufficient in her journey to overall academic success. She felt that good grades meant so much more than test scores—for her, it was the opportunities that came along with them. Blaydes’ academic success opened doors for her, such as receiving scholarships from the National Association for Black Accountants (NABA) and internships at Whirlpool and JP Morgan Chase. She hopes that the students reading her book will learn to find their own answers to questions like this.
Along her own journey, Blaydes says mentors helped shaped her into the person she is today; she says her first mentor, MSU Engagement Center advisor DeAndre Carter, was pivotal in her success. The two met when Blaydes was participating in a competition for Black Student Alliance. Blaydes lost the competition, but Carter, a judge, pulled her aside at the end to tell her that he believed she was capable of great things. “That was the first time someone made a point to seek me out and empower me with the belief that I could do great things. To this day, he is still a mentor,” Blaydes said.
Down the road, Blaydes plans to publish more books, have her own talk show, and open her own university to create a space where people can grow into their best selves. This university she hopes to build, which she describes as “an adult Disney World, where anything is possible,” will encourage and inspire its students to achieve great things.
“We must get in the habit of leading our lives. We all must live out our college experience with such passion that when we leave we feel accomplished and experienced enough to manage what comes next,” Blaydes said.