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Column: A life-changing concert

Becoming a part of the campus newspaper wasn’t something I planned for my college experience. Troye Sivan’s concert during my freshman year was part of the reason why it happened.

It all changed on Nov. 1, 2016 in Chicago. I bought the tickets in May, right after I decided to come to Bradley and before my high school graduation. As an international student from China and attending high school in Florida, I had no idea how far Peoria was from Chicago.

Fast forward to August: I got my syllabus and was planning my calendar, only to realize that Nov. 1 was a Tuesday.

Did I think about taking the Peoria Charter Bus and skipping my classes on that Wednesday? Of course, I did. But that Wednesday was one of the “speech days” for my public speaking class, and missing a class meant an automatic drop in my letter grade for missing my speech.

The stakes were too high, and I wouldn’t be able to get back on time if I took the bus. I thought about driving, but I did not have a car on campus at the time, nor did I have a U.S. driver’s license. My Chinese driver’s license wouldn’t work.

At this point, it seemed impossible for me to make it to the concert without missing my class, and logically speaking, it was not worth the effort to attend the concert. But I was determined.

It turns out to be extremely hard to get a driver’s license without a Social Security number, which I didn’t have at the time. I would need a job offer to apply for a Social Security number as an international student, and it would only be on-campus jobs, a limitation set by my student visa.

I needed an on-campus job regardless, but the concert created this urgency for me and encouraged me to apply for every opportunity I could find.

It is probably safe to say not many people experienced the level of excitement and the sense of relief I felt when I received a job offer from dining services in mid-October. It was my golden ticket to Charlie’s chocolate factory.

Just days later, I received the offer to become the graphics editor at The Scout.

With the job offers, I applied for and got my Social Security number, got my driver’s license and somehow managed to rent a car with my Chinese driving records. I drove to Chicago that Tuesday, attended the concert and drove back the same night. I still made it to my Wednesday morning class.

At the time, I was happy that I was able to find some jobs on campus and was able to make it to the concert. What I didn’t realize is that my job as the graphics editor really helped me to discover my passion for both graphic design and for journalism throughout my college career.

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