The human eye is an amazing thing, giving us the capability to see magnificent images with minimal effort. We often take our sight for granted and rarely think what life would be like without vision. Using our eyes, we see the present. With the addition of our mind and our feet we are able to change the present to make for a better future. This sheds some light on what Theodore Roosevelt meant when he said, “Keep your eyes on the stars and feet on the ground.” This quote has become very special to me after my experiences of December 2014.

I am currently pursuing a degree in Chemical Engineering at Oklahoma State University, which entails some pretty challenging classes and lots of comprehensive reading. In the fall of 2014, I began having severe headaches and blackouts in my vision between five and eight times per day. To make matters worse, when reading a textbook for about 15 minutes the words would all start to come together into a big black blur. Three doctors told me nothing was wrong and I was just sleep-deprived. So, I stayed strong, worked even harder, slept less and followed my vision!

Right after final exams at the end of the semester I visited my optometrist for my yearly exam. After looking deep into my eyes, without any knowledge of my prior symptoms, he recommended I walk straight to the Hospital across the street to have an Emergency CT scan. Later that day I was diagnosed with a brain tumor larger than an orange and quickly put in line for surgery the following day. Thanks to the keen eye and intelligence of this eye doctor, a life-threatening situation was revealed when he identified the severe swelling in my optic nerve.

Throughout my stay in the hospital, I never once questioned the fact that I would get back to school on time. I never took my eyes off the vision of becoming an engineer. My situation proved how important it is to have long-term visions; it gives the mind something to consistently be working toward, without stopping to dwell on the setbacks. Vision is very important in my life because I believe it is what helped me return to college a mere 20 days after an intense brain surgery.

Following this experience, and as I pursue my degree while battling the tumor’s return, I am able to fully grasp Roosevelt’s quote. In the first half of his quote, “Keep your eyes on the stars…” he is encouraging people to establish a vision for themselves. This will give people encouragement in down times with eyes always set on enhancing the future. Realizing that always looking to the future can lead to opportunities for failure day to day, Roosevelt encourages people to “…Keep your feet on the ground.”

As I go about my daily routines, studying, working on campus and mowing yards to help defray my college expenses, I keep my eyes on the future, while being grateful for the present with my feet on the ground.