Onward, on, John Carroll

May 3rd, 2012

Ever since grade school, my district’s slogan was, “The best is yet to come.” During my time at North Allegheny, I loved this motto. I thought it was inspirational, a message that I could truly embrace – I could be the best that NA has to offer.

However, when I graduated and they did not change the slogan, I was disappointed to say the least. If the best is still yet to come, doesn’t that imply that I was not the best? Hmph.

Well, over 15 classes and 10,000 people have graduated in the time that this has been the slogan, and I’m starting to believe the ‘best’ just simply isn’t coming. So where does that leave us?

With graduation looming right around the corner and all the seniors scrambling to get their lives together, I would like to offer a different message to everyone at JCU: The best is here right now.

For those of you graduating, good luck in the real world. It’s true – we’ve got this awesome little bubble in the UH, and nothing will pop it faster than your diploma. Fortunately, if you have taken advantage of all of the opportunities at JCU, then nobody could be more prepared to face reality than you.

For the rest of us, we have a duty to live the dream during the rest of our time in college. We can all be a part of a brighter future, but our job starts now.

Since I was born in the 1990s, I have a natural tendency to be nostalgic.

So, I found a picture of little Brian Bayer heading off to his first day of kindergarten back in 1997 (you can check it out on my Facebook profile pics if you so desire). I had a black pair of jean shorts, knee-high socks and a red T-shirt that said “Prowler” with a tiger on it.

Ever since then, I like to think I have attacked life with that prowler attitude. You gotta get after your dreams and make them happen. You gotta be that tiger (in knee-high socks if that’s your thing) who tries to tackle the problems of the world and work towards a better tomorrow.

That first day of kindergarten, my biggest challenge was making a Froot Loop necklace and building a castle out of cardboard blocks. By second grade, I had expanded my search for meaning to multiplication tables (still working on those actually). By ninth grade, I had developed my own denim-based jean jacket swag. By the time I was a senior, I was positive I had all the answers. After all, I was a prowler, that badass tiger I so proudly sported on my first-ever day of school just 13 years before.

And now that I am a junior, I have learned that nobody really has all the answers, but we do have something that very few people are blessed with: an atmosphere that allows us to freely search for them. And that’s really what college is all about.

As for what I have learned, I would say two major themes stand out above everything else: live and grow.

There is no value in “I haven’t.” Tremendous talent is worth nothing if it is left unrealized. But realizing it is only half the battle – growing into the person you want to be is the other half.

Every year, I make a list of goals I want to accomplish. I evaluate these throughout the year to see how I am doing. Sometimes I achieve them; sometimes I fall short. That’s part of being human. But this year, I only made one goal: To grow as a person.

Granted, this is a very open-ended goal, but it really says it all. If you can figure out what you are passionate about and pursue that with your whole heart and grow into the person that you want to be, then you are, by all accounts, a successful person.

The JCU fight song offers a great message for all of us:

“Onward, On John Carroll, For we’re here to see you win, Gold and Blue;

Onward, On John Carroll, Onto greater goals and vict’ries new;

Onward, On John Carroll, For our faith in you is boundless and true;

Dear Alma Mater, we’re all for you, And for the Gold and Blue.”

As proud Blue Streaks, we are each a part of this victory-bound population of winners. If you are graduating, now is your time to move “onto greater goals and vict’ries new.”

And if you have more time at JCU, treasure it, because I am positive that the best is already right here and now. It’s just a matter of proving to the world that it is our turn to take the reigns and prowl our way to an even better best.