Gibran Caroline Boyce '20
Life without Asterisks
When I was in high school, my family took a trip to Washington D.C. On our last night before leaving, we drove to the Capitol building on a clear, starry night and I immediately became overwhelmed with what the beauty of it at night and what the Capitol building represents. I said to my parents, "I’m going to work there one day." My sophomore year of college I landed my first internship with the Mayor of Boston, Marty Walsh, for his re-election campaign. I spent a total of three hours twice a week between classes commuting to and from Dorchester, MA and weekends waking up at 5am to write morning news clips. In spite of routinely having to resist the urge to sleep for just 15 more minutes… it was still one of the most rewarding experiences of my life so far.
I had originally applied to work as a field organizer (not knowing what anyone on a campaign actually does) and was promptly told that I had the wrong e-mail address -- given my resume, the campaign staffer assumed that I was looking for the communications team. I wasn’t… but thanks to him, I unwittingly was launched into my dream career. As a result of my internship with the Mayor, I shortly afterward landed a summer internship with Senator Elizabeth Warren’s press team on Capitol Hill.
I will never forget my first day of being a press intern for such a highly respected politician. It was a scorching hot early summer morning in Washington D.C. I was wearing a brand new pantsuit with a power blazer that I felt would make Senator Warren proud and a stomach full of backflipping butterflies. "This is it. This is what I always dreamed of," I thought to myself. I have always considered myself to be an extremely goal-oriented person, a go-getter, and most of all, a dreamer. As a first-generation American, born to two immigrants from island life in Trinidad & Tobago, my parents came to America with a dream. Their dream was for their three kids to live a life that they were not able to have growing up. I think I got that fire in my belly from my mom who often told me growing up that "life does not come with asterisks." In other words: Work hard because there won’t always be room for excuses later on in what can be a cruel world.
That cruel world became a halting reality for everyone in March 2020. I was asleep, taking a nap between classes, while campus got the news: "The rest of the semester is cancelled," read the email. I awoke to roommates and friends crying, holding each other, and preparing themselves for what could be the last goodbye for a very, very long time. We didn’t know just how bad things could get for the families of the now 500,000 Americans who lost their battle to Covid-19. All that mattered in that moment was the Class of 2020 who would miss the final 100 days we were promised. From Senior Week to Commencement Ball, to the right to say goodbye to as many students and professors as possible who laid the foundation for who we would grow to be. Not to mention graduation -- the memories of all of our hard work, the laughs, the tears, the nights we spent on O’Neil 5th floor just hoping that one more coffee at 3AM could make the difference between a B and an A. It all seemed so moot.
I spent those first few weeks of the pandemic thinking about who I wanted to be. To be fair, I thought that I had more than four days to decide. However, as a dreamer and a doer, it did not take long for me to realize that I wanted to have a plan, because life does not come with asterisks. One very late night in late March, almost on autopilot, I opened my computer, bought a website domain, and started googling "how to create a WordPress website." I felt overwhelmed by the goodbyes I didn’t get to say, the uncertainty of not having a job lined up, the anxiety that my mom -- who is a Breast Cancer survivor, diagnosed while I was halfway around the world studying abroad in Barcelona, Spain in spring 2019 -- could possibly get Covid-19, or that it could possibly be my fault.
What I did know, after years of learning from my International Studies major about what it means to be a global citizen, is that I had to do something. I will always remember from Professor Erik Owens' Ethics, Religion, and International Politics class that to be a global citizen, to help, means to do so within your capacity or your means. You do not need to donate millions of dollars to end world hunger. Ask yourself: What you can do in that moment, just to help? Unfortunately, one thing my IS degree didn’t give me was the ability to find the vaccine for Covid-19. I decided to leave that to the STEM majors. But, after a lot of reflecting, and with an unnamed blog site, I thought about the woman I wanted to be. That same night, "All My Love, Gib" -- the love letter to your most confident self -- was born. Like I said, I couldn’t end a global pandemic, but I could do what I do best and write to provide comfort for myself and other 20-somethings who are currently feeling all of the same uncertainty that I was.
AMLG became a space for a community of women in their 20’s to think about the life that they dream of having, tips to find the confidence that they need to believe in their own self-value and capabilities, and to read about other young women who are on this journey too. A year later, I can now confidently say that I am a writer, a humanitarian and activist, the founder and CEO of an ever-expanding multimedia lifestyle platform (AMLG), managing contributing writers, editors, and digital creatives for the brand, and host of "Uncurated" Podcast, sharing the lived experiences of female trailblazers and their personal journeys to confidence and success, but mostly I'm a 22-year-old girl who one year ago today was just as lost and confused about her purpose as anyone else.
I took the summer and fall during the pandemic off to spend time just being a free-from-grown-up-responsibilities young adult -- time that I realized I would never get back. Learning to let go and enjoy life was maybe the first lesson I learned during the pandemic, and it is undoubtedly the best advice I could take advantage of myself or give to anyone else. I took full advantage of being able to live at home to save money and making sure that whatever my next step was, it was something that will continue to challenge me, while still being something that I truly enjoyed. I do hope to one day go back to strategic political communications, working for senators or maybe even a President one day. It took a long time for me to figure it out, but I feel confident in where I am today -- a little over a month into my career in strategic communications at Edelman, the number one marketing communications firm in the world.
I do not know where I will be in the next 12 months, let alone the next 20 years. But I have never felt so ready to take on the challenges that come my way. A few weeks ago, my hometown best friend asked me if I regret majoring in something that I am not using every single day of my life. She is referring to the fact that I don’t directly work in politics but instead, corporate communications. What she didn’t realize, though, is that I am using the most important parts of my International Studies major every single day since leaving Boston College. Every day I strive to continue being an advocate both on and off of social media for those who cannot speak out for themselves. I strive to be a global citizen, doing what I can within my capacity to recognize hurt throughout the world and mend those wounds for people that I will likely never get to meet. The IS major always meant so much more to me than just politics and diplomacy. It meant the opportunity to see the world for what it is, intentionally seek out my place and my role in it, and act on my responsibility to help others. Lucky for all of us IS majors, these lessons will not go away with a pandemic, a career change, or a promotion.
Gibran Caroline Boyce