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The real source of a college education

April 29th, 2010

As we get closer to the end of the semester and that word seniors shudder at every time I say it (commencement), I think it’s time to reflect on what just happened.

I don’t mean what happened this past weekend, or even this past semester (although, I’m told those were awesome too). I’m talking about from when you moved into Murphy on that August day.

College is an interesting concept. It’s supposed to be about “the education.” Here at JCU, a liberal arts school, it’s about “inspiring individuals to excel in learning, leadership and service in the region and in the world.” It’s true, it’s on the Internet.

Don’t take this next part the wrong way. I’m happy that I ended up here, even though if you had asked me back on that August day I would have been less than enthused about it, but I think they left some things out.

While I think that JCU can be a great place, I would say that the University’s mission is accomplished not so much through the University itself, but rather, through the students.

I’d be flat-out lying if I said that there weren’t faculty and staff members here that have changed my life forever. There are plenty. But even with as much as they taught me, they don’t even come close to the impact that other students, particularly seniors, have had on me.

There’s something about seniors where they always seem to know what to do. I refer to it as “the senior quality” (creativity is clearly one of my strengths) and for the last three years I’ve watched a different group take charge. As different as each group has been, they have all brought that “senior quality” to life.

Despite how much of a leader, trailblazer, and one-man wrecking crew I consider myself, I take notes on how those with more experience carry themselves and handle their business.

Most of the seniors I know bring this quality to the table, but there are some people and moments that stand out more than others, which I’ll never forget.

Here are just a few of the things I’ve learned from watching them: hard work pays off, sometimes somebody needs to step up, that somebody will often be you, the impact of humility (I know, right?), the importance of connections and taking advantage of opportunity, and maybe the most insightful of all, the phrase “leadership boils down to two words: follow me.”

I think I might make that last one my epitaph.

I also picked up a few other things from them, like the knowledge that ice cream sandwich breaks provide the perfect respite from the weekly grind, Tuesday night dinner in the dining hall with a good friend is way better than having a convenient schedule, Sunday night/Monday mornings are the best time to do homework due on Monday afternoon, adding “self-proclaimed” to a byline is completely ethical (not to mention hilarious) and an “over aggressive” philosophy on life isn’t just hyperbole, it’s genius.

Just like the last two years, I’ve learned a lot from the people that are going to be walking across the stage in less than a month. It’s a little weird knowing that I’ll be filling that role next year, but I think I understand what the job entails.

This is a thanks to my teachers, thanks for “just being a senior.”