ALUM 101

Alumna offers sage advice derived from adages

Have you ever wondered why those “wise old sayings” are words to live by? They get passed down from one generation to the next. My philosophy is that the experience of living teaches you how relevant those proverbs are to your life.

“Be true to your passion and you’ll never ‘work’ a day in your life.” When you are doing something you love, you must have noticed how quickly time passes. That’s because you are truly engaged and not passing time. What are your passions? If you plan your endeavors so that they fulfill that passion, you will spend a lifetime looking forward to starting your day. If you research those alumni who preceded you, some of the most prominent have pursued careers that fed their imaginations. The dream doesn’t need to be heroic; it just needs to be vivid enough to reflect who you are. Use it to formulate your plan.

“Any plan is bad that cannot be changed.” This classic Italian proverb speaks toward being specific yet flexible. You know the importance of a plan. In your quest to come to Rensselaer, you planned the academic and extra-curricular activities that would make you a superlative candidate. It may not have felt like a plan while you were in the middle of it, but it was. Now that you’re here, you have been executing a plan for graduation; you took steps (like extra tutoring to pass Differential Equations or Structures 2) to ensure success. The planning doesn’t stop with a tassel and a mortarboard. Formulate a plan for your life that includes all your goals. Ultimately, where do you plan to take your career? When you answer that, identify the stages that get you there, and be prepared to adjust to changes in circumstance. What types of positions will give you the appropriate experiences that will enable you to fulfill your goals? How long should you have those positions? The plan doesn’t need to be rigid, but your plan should be structured. Write it down; that act alone makes it a plan and allows you to benchmark it periodically throughout your life.

You will change throughout your life. Your life experiences may alter your goals, and these may take you in a different direction. Be open to revising your plan so you can redirect your efforts. Consider that as you evolve, you will find different ambitions to pursue. Embrace it.

“You can’t work all the time.” Aesop said “you can’t play all the time.” The point is that you need to find balance. Return to the life plan; identify the personal events that will give your life meaning. Spend time making those a part of your plan. Just don’t beat yourself up if they don’t happen on schedule, nor settle to meet that schedule. Not everything is in your control. Surround yourself with the people who appreciate your uniqueness. Work on interpersonal relationships, both personal and professional because both will present opportunities for personal growth.

Proverbs and saying are interesting to ponder. Some are inspirational, some are prescriptive, and some are just hilarious. But they are just sayings until you until you figure out how they apply to you.

Patricia M. DeLauri ’84, ’85 is an Associate with Shepley Bulfinch, in Boston’s Seaport District. She received her both her BS and BArch from Rensselaer and an MArch from Syracuse University. Patricia currently serves on the Rensselaer Alumni Association Board of Trustees and is active in the Boston Chapter, the 2013 Chapter of the Year. You may contact her at

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