By Brian Edsall
Many people approach life by following set plans. Unfortunately, life often does not proceed according to plan. This can be frightening, and it certainly was for Raquel Medina. However, she eventually discovered that the only thing she needed to follow was her heart.
Raquel has always had a strong passion for writing. In her sophomore year, Raquel won her high school’s slam poetry competition. At the end of high school, she entered a contest with Eber & Weinstein Publishers, where her poem was selected to be published in “This Time Around: Expedition.”
However, Raquel was told to pursue something more practical in college. She eventually decided to major in communications after transferring to Marist College during her freshman year. But she soon discovered that being practical does not always equate to happiness.
During her sophomore year, Raquel struggled with her classes and felt lost. She debated dropping out of Marist and giving up completely. However Raquel was not alone as she received help from faculty and friends alike. “I had taken a class with one of the English professors, Dr. Michelle Smith, and she was extremely encouraging,” Raquel explained. “She pulled me aside one day and told me that I was meant to be an English major – she played an important role in why I switched.”
Raquel’s friend Colleen was also extremely supportive through her tough times. “She told me that I had to pursue my dreams, and that was going to start by switching my major to something I loved,” Raquel said.
Becoming an English major has allowed Raquel to pursue her true passions. “So many people are worried about money, but I’m more concerned about finding something that makes me happy and fulfilled, regardless of where I am or how much I’m making,” Raquel said.
Throughout college she has continued to write poems, short stories, a novella, and has even forged a strong love for songwriting. “I always liked writing poetry, and one day I decided to put music to my poems,” Raquel said. “I would wake up at random hours of the night with melodies in my head and I still do that now.”
“Writing helps me to express myself, especially when I’m going through hard times,” Raquel continued. “Oftentimes it’s about things that I can’t easily say, but when I write words down it all makes sense.”
Raquel attributes much of her passion for writing to her high school English teacher Mr. Baird who passed away while she was still in high school. “I remember him as if he were right in front of me. He’s the reason I write. He told us that we need to get out there, see the world, and read the great authors,” Raquel said.
Raquel hopes that one day she will see the world. She has been fortunate enough to study abroad and visit Australia and New Zealand during her time at Marist. This experience strengthened her passion for traveling and nature.
“There is just something so special about connecting with the world around you. You just feel so small, but it’s important to feel small sometimes…It really does improve you as a person, to connect with something greater than you,” Raquel said.
“It’s the world we live in, why would anyone want to stay in one place all of their life when there are so many opportunities, so many things to see, and so many cultures to learn about?” Raquel continued. “I think it’s so important to just get out of your comfort zone and see something new…That’s the whole point of creativity – to push your limits and see the world in different ways.”
Raquel has considered becoming an English teacher in Spain. However she does not have any concrete plans after graduation, and she is at peace with that. “People are meant to shift around and try new things,” Raquel explained. “The first job I get might not be ‘the one,’ but at least I’ll learn about myself through the experience…I have so many interests, but as long as I can use my creativity to help others I’ll be happy.”
Throughout her life, Raquel has had role models who have inspired her to follow her passions. She now hopes to become a source of inspiration by encouraging others to chase their dreams. “I think everyone needs a role model and not everyone has one. I hope that I can be that for even one person. If I could inspire just one person then I’ll be happy.”