By Alexus Birtchman
Mar 19, 2020
Iyliana Olds aspires to be someone who helps people. In her journey to achieve her dream job as a counselor for troubled children, Olds has faced several challenges. Through these challenges, she has learned about herself, her limits, and the ways in which she can push through adversity.
Throughout her years at Indiana State University, Olds, like most college students, has struggled with making the transition from dependent teenager to independent adult. “You have to secure your own transport, pay your own bills, make sure you get up on time,” she says, “It’s challenge after challenge. Even if it’s small, and something like getting up on time for your 8 a.m. class … It [requires] self-discipline and recognizing that something is an issue for you and having to map out possible solutions for whatever the problem is.”
With this transition from dependence to independence, comes a change in people’s personalities and priorities. “I’ve definitely learned a lot about myself, how much I can handle, the sort of things I’m looking for and not looking for,” Olds says. Olds has come to realize these different aspects about herself by pursuing opportunities that she previously thought she’d never take advantage of. For example, she participated in an alternative break trip in the summer of 2019, traveling to Florida to volunteer at the Marine Science Center. “I didn’t think I would ever do one of those,” she says.
Olds is glad she did decide to travel to Florida because, while she had thought her decision to pursue graduate school in the south was a sure thing, she learned through this experience that summertime Florida heat was not for her. “If you are ever hesitant about trying anything, especially anything new, definitely go for it,” she says, “You never know unless you try.”
In addition to learning how to help herself, Olds has also been helped by supportive friends, family, and the ISU community. Her freshman year, Christmas 2017, Olds’s father died. “I hadn’t talked to him in a while because I was too busy, worried about finals and studying, but I told him that I would talk to him when I got the chance,” Olds confides, “I never got the chance to after that. So, I ended up internalizing it, and sort of blaming my schoolwork and [myself] for valuing my schoolwork over family time. In order for me to … come back the following semester, I had to get over that.” With the help of the listening ears offered by her mom and her friends, and the grief counseling available at the Student Counseling Center, Olds was able to push through and find the strength to continue her schooling.
“Thinking of the last conversation that we had when he told me how proud he was of me for being in school — knowing that I couldn’t give up, and just reminding myself of why I’m in school … it just put me in the right mindset for the rest of the semester and the rest of my college career. I had to finish this, not just for me, but for him and the rest of my family members so they can know that you can go through something awful, but if you can make it through that, then you can make it through almost anything.”