I think there are a few ways to guarantee success at this University and afterwards. For starters, excelling academically by working hard is a surefire way to make sure you’re successful after you graduate. Another obvious answer — especially for those involved in the business world — would be to make valuable connections with people. Get a LinkedIn, attend all the job fairs and maybe send an email to your second cousin’s best friend who has that sick job up in New York. In theory, it should be easy to succeed at this University. There’s something missing from this, though. In addition to getting the grades and having the connections, I’m convinced one of the most guaranteed ways to become successful in your field is to be inspired. It is this inspiration that fuels the passion and motivation to keep striving for success. At least for me, my optimism lies in the fact that I am inspired and passionate about my future all the time. The most obvious and standout inspiration I have in life is my mother. My mother — who immigrated here from China with a Chinese medical school degree — came to the United States with my father to pursue the American Dream that always seems much more attractive and realistic when you’re not actually in America. Nonetheless, despite her poor English and unfamiliarity with America, she soon found work in a lab at the University of Michigan before applying to residency programs to complete her degree. My mom — with her broken English and all — interviewed and got accepted to Brown and Wake Forest, eventually choosing to pursue the latter as my father had a job there as well. At this point, she had two young kids, and I can remember clearly watching her study for her medical board exam outside my room late at night when I needed someone to guard my door from the monsters. I also remember looking through old picture books of her when I missed her while she was be on-call at the hospital for long periods. Soon enough, my mother became a board-certified neurologist and now has her own private practice, serving patients in southwest Virginia who love her, despite her accent and imperfect English. Not only this, but just about every aspect of the way my mother handles our household my siblings and me is also inspiring to me. But there are other things and people that inspire me as well. I am inspired in this moment, as I type this in the McGregor Room of Alderman Library and see all my fellow stressed-out, overloaded students who are studying hard for their futures nonetheless. I’m inspired by pretty much all of my friends, who serve as a constant reminder of how impressive people truly can be. Most of my professors also inspire me to be a better student and work harder for their classes. If you look around, there is inspiration in even the smallest things. Even though the moral of this is pretty cheesy and something you might find as a high school student’s senior yearbook quote, I think it’s important to remember — especially around this time of year. At least for me, now is the time when my bed becomes a little harder to leave every morning, my sights become set on Thanksgiving break and the end of the semester and my stress levels toward final grades and exams skyrocket. This leaves little room for romantic moments of inspiration and motivation. Instead, academic success just becomes a necessity. We’re all striving to do it just to do it, but we don’t really remember why. But for me, being reminded of the “why” is what makes me want to keep pursuing my passions and striving toward success in my academic and personal life. My mom always tells me, “If there’s a will, there is a way,” and I genuinely believe that having inspiration and passion are the first steps you need to succeed. Luckily, there are so many people and things around us that are inspiration-worthy, and maybe it just takes a little more awareness to realize that studying and working hard now is all for a much greater payoff in the future.