I’ve always found it hard to leave.

In December I’ll leave Central Michigan University and the town of Mount Pleasant, the places that have been my home for the past four years.

Like many undergraduates today it has taken me longer than four years to finish school. I’m grateful to have one more semester, because at the end of that semester I have to join the real world.

The real world I’m about to join is one where jobs are getting harder to find, gas prices are skyrocketing and people cannot always afford the things they need, much less the things they want. This is especially true in Michigan. But I’m an optimistic person. I believe good things happen more often than many people think.

Scanning the Detroit News homepage today I came across stories about jobs leaving the area and the state budget looking bad, but I also came across a business success story. A 15-year-old girl scout in Dearborn broke the national cookie selling record this year by selling 17,328 boxes of cookies in one five-week season.

Stories like this illustrate that even in a tough economy, hard work and a positive attitude can accomplish things.

I’m not looking to break any national records when I join the real world—I just want to put my degree to use and make a difference.

I think to be successful today, people need to be able to adapt. College taught me how to adapt. In the last four years I’ve lived in four different dorms and apartments; I’ve had a variety of jobs and internships and I’ve watched the football team play for two different coaches.

December is still eight months away and I’m not ready to make any predictions about what my first job will be or where it will be, but I am ready to live in the same apartment for more than ten months at a time.

Beth Kieda