EXPAND BEYOND YOUR BORDERS

Dane Durham is a 2010 graduate of Northern Michigan University with a B.Sc. in Accounting and currently pursuing his MBA in Finance at Keller Graduate School of Management. He is quite passionate about the financial markets – being a former intern at a private equity firm and a present accounting/finance tutor at his university. Beyond that; Dane enjoys mentoring others – particularly as relates to obtaining diversity experience and breaking past cultural limitations.

I believe one of the most challenging yet rewarding decisions a young adult can make is the decision to explore beyond one’s cultural norms and borders. Oftentimes what we perceive to be reality is actually a narrow perspective entrenched in the confines of our immediate surroundings. Although in this place we grow, learn and function; there is still much more to experience beyond those physical and mental borders. I strongly believe that young college students who are in a position to accept this challenge and follow through; would take a huge step on the road to self-development and increased knowledge that can’t be learned in the pages of a text. This journey could take you from one state to another that is demographically distinct or even to another country. Allow me to share a bit about my background, journey and experiences – all of which have helped me to mature and hopefully will inspire you in some way to expand beyond your own borders.
I was born in the Caribbean – Trinidad & Tobago to be more specific; the most culturally diverse English-speaking island in the Caribbean. It is also the leading producer of oil and natural gas in the Caribbean, possessing one of the highest growth rates and per capita income in Latin America. Following on my desire to study in the US, I left Trinidad and relocated not to D.C or New York where I had family but to the Upper-Peninsula of Michigan to attend Northern Michigan University. Coming from a tropical paradise, I had to adjust then adapt to not only grueling weather conditions but also to a cultural/ethnic dynamic that was wholly different to what I had known. This was difficult in the early going but I somehow became intrigued by the unfamiliar – intrigued by meeting people from different ethnicities and even more fascinated to discover that we had more things in common than previously thought. Take note that there are others who are also equally intrigued by your difference.
Flexibility was not always one of my stronger traits but I was able to fit into my new environment, develop strong connections and friendships leading to landing a position as a volunteer radio personality (DJ) on campus. This helped develop my public-speaking skills, adapt more effectively and relate to my environment as well as afforded me the opportunity to introduce my culture through music. It also opened the doors toward connecting with people in the campus community which led to the formation of valuable relationships with business people in Marquette, Michigan. The value of these relationships were realized when I was hired as Promotions Director and was responsible for planning and organizing concerts and like events. I was able to attract investment from these businesses who injected gift certificates, and made donations toward these events.
Somewhat not surprisingly; the highlight of my college career was being appointed President of the Campus’s All Nations Club in the final year of my degree. It is believed that a person with Diversity Experience adds value to an organization as they are better equipped to inject a wider range of views and perspectives which can be applied effectively in the development of work products and in solutions. In that light, I encourage any prospective college student to consider exploring a unique experience beyond your immediate environment and culture. If that is not feasible; definitely try to enroll in a study abroad program while at college. The world is a global village and the ability to connect with persons from different cultures can only augur well for you in both your career and the long run. Good Luck.

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