A Phenomenal Fight

Our guest this week, Joe Pugliese, offers another S.G.A. perspective. By sharing his own collegiate story, he reminds us of the tremendous reward in summoning the courage to face down our toughest challenges. Whether it's tackling a major exam or staring down the eye of a hurricane, we all face a moment where we have to decide whether or not we're ready to throw away our shot. 


Pro tip: No one will do it for you.

            What exactly is it? The answer is simple—whatever you want it to be.

            One thing I realized as I close out my final year of my undergraduate career is there’s been a prevailing narrative of me falling flat on my face.

            One month into my freshman year I had been involved in a life-threatening car accident, was failing a class for the first time in my life, and felt that I had no one in my corner. I started to think that I had made one of the most emphatic mistakes of my life by deciding to take the non-traditional route of commuting to school and furthermore felt there was a systemic infection that plagued practically every decision that I had made in that month.

            There was always an option in the background to just say that college was not designed for me and I could have just left; but I was not throwing away my shot.


            Instead of calling it quits when things got tough and saying college was not in my plans, I was going to make my college experience fit my plans. Although the yearlong search to find my place was exhausting, lonesome, and at times unbearable I eventually found a home within Student Government as the Vice President of Academic Affairs. At the same time I began working with Marist’s St. Jude Up ‘til Dawn organization, and dedicated myself to having a perfect academic semester. Needless to say, I was absorbing myself into my work.

            Ultimately, the workhorse mentality paid off tenfold. Over the past two and a half years I made some of the greatest friends I’ve ever had through my extracurricular work, I was able to accomplish my goal of having a perfect academic semester three times, and finally felt like I belonged.

            As I type this, I’m finishing up my last year of undergraduate schooling while also working full-time as an intake paralegal at a local law firm—despite being on the verge of tapping out my freshman year.

            Sure, I left stuff out because you don’t remember everything. But one thing I will never forget is that I turned my greatest curse into my greatest blessing.

            As I prepare to take the LSAT on December 3, I’m once again adopting that workhorse mentality. I’m not running from the portions of the test that frighten me; instead, I’m running right through them. My first practice LSAT score was about 30 points lower than what I need to get into my top schools and the average cumulative score increase is around 12 points. I may have experts, former students, and teachers telling me I can't do it, but history dictates that if I give it my all I can prove them all wrong.

            Even though this may sound a bit cliché and preachy, if there’s a teacher, a coach, a friend, or anyone—including yourself—that makes you think you can’t accomplish something do not listen to them. While no one will do it for you, by merely changing your mentality you can do it for yourself.

            So, embrace life positively. Regardless of where you’re at in life right now you’re going to continue to change, grow, and more importantly, struggle. Although it may seem insurmountable, by overcoming these struggles you get to really experience what life is all about. 

            One thing I realized as I close out my final year of my undergraduate career is there’s been a prevailing narrative of me falling flat on my face. A more important thing I realized in the past three years is there’s been a prevailing narrative of me finding a way to get back on my feet again.

Your obedient servant,

J. Pug

This post has been edited for grammar. All other content remains the original thoughts & expressions of the author.