Cassie Boorn, one of St. Ambrose University's newest graduates, is a single mom, a new home owner and the author of a blog that has gained national attention. |
The 23-year-old Galva resident was among the 291 graduates to accept degrees Saturday during SAU's winter commencement ceremonies at the RiverCenter, Davenport.
The achievement is just one of many for the philosophy major, who began blogging in 2008 and has since captured the attention of National Public Radio, The New York Times, The Chicago Tribune and other media outlets.
"I just wanted to do it as something to do," she said. "There was no real purpose behind it. It really was just a personal journal, just sharing life stories."
The blog gets 2,000 readers per month, thanks largely to a project that reaches out to women in their 30s, 40s and beyond and asks them to write a letter to their 20-something selves. She started by attending blogging conferences, building relationships and asking a few of the bloggers to write letters to their former selves. She then sent a link to The New York Times' parenting blog, Motherlode.
"I said, 'Hey, I'm doing this, and you might like it. Here's a link,'" Ms. Boorn said. "I never really expected anything to happen from that."
Then one day while sitting in class, she got a notice on her phone that someone had linked to her blog.
"I looked and it was like, 'Oh! OK! I'm sitting in class, Nytimes.com just linked to my blog. I hope it doesn't shut down because the server is only so large.'"Since starting her effort, Ms. Boorn has received more than 100 letters that have been full of advice and analysis of past mistakes.
"It blew up much larger than I had anticipated," she said.
After The New York Times, NPR came calling, but Ms. Boorn wasn't answering the phone.
"Ihad never heard of NPR," she said. "I didn't e-mail them back. I was like, 'I don't want to be on the radio.'"
After attempts to reach Ms. Boorn were unsuccessful, NPR contacted a friend of hers.
"She called me and said, 'NPR is trying to get ahold of you. E-mail them back right now!'"
She followed the advice and ended up being featured on NPR's popular program "All Things Considered" in June.
Ms. Boorn started the project last summer when she realized "how different it was to be in your 20s." She said there is so much information about surviving the teenage years, but no one provides a road map for navigating the career and other life challenges facing those in their 20s.
"Ithink whenI started Iwas mostly interested in career advice -- what should I be doing to be successful?" she said. "And from most of the letters, I got, 'Stop worrying about your career, you'll figure it out.'"
Ms. Boorn said the overwhelming message was to enjoy where you are now, not fall into the race most 20-somethings are in, to move on to the next big thing.
"Women say you will never have this time -- most are kidless, not married, no major obligations," she said. "You'll never have this freedom to try things out and for making huge mistakes. Just enjoy this time."
She said this perspective helped her focus on being in the present, a departure from her natural tendency to be focused on a goal.
She said most of the letters she has received have been very honest and often reveal love lessons learned. A friend of Ms. Boorn's wrote, "You're going to meet a really nice guy who is going to take you helicopter skiing and send you mountains of flowers. He is bad news. Trust your instincts."
During the interview on NPR, she was asked if she took this advice to heart. Ms. Boorn said, "Well, I would at least try it out. At least see how it was. And free flowers -- why would you turn that down?"
Ms. Boorn said another lady ordered her younger self to "just wear the dress and shut up about it. As bad as you think your body looks, it's the best you're ever going to look. You are in your early 20s; you're never going to look like this."
Another woman thanked her 20-year-old self for not having any naked pictures floating around the Internet.
Now that Ms. Boorn has earned her degree she'll go from working part time with DeVries Public Relations to full time, a job she does remotely while making periodic trips to the firm in New York. She also has a book agent who will be helping her craft a proposal and sample chapters.
If that weren't enough, she will continue raising her 4-year-old son, Aiden. Ms. Boorn said she frequently is asked how she managed to finish college while raising her son, but she said taking classes actually allowed her more time with her son than a typical 9-to-5 job would have.
"It offers a lot of balance. If he's sick and Imiss class, it's not as big of a deal as having to call in," she said.
On the web: http://cassieboorn.com/
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