Rona Proudfoot ’01

September 6th, 2012

This may be your first year at John Carroll or your fifth. Either way, the new year means you’ve earned a fresh start. I urge you — seize the opportunity and try something new.

Some of you are here with no idea what career path your college experience will take you down. Others of you have your major picked and your course charted.

I fell into the latter category when I showed up at JCU 15 years ago. I was majoring in physics and running cross country and track. I had it all figured out.

I was intrigued, however, to hear that The Carroll News was looking for writers. All I knew was writing sounded like fun, and the idea of having my name in the paper was pretty cool, too.

To make a long story short, I was hooked from my very first assignment — a women’s soccer game. I went on to become the paper’s sports editor and then Editor in Chief, and 15 years later, I have more than a decade under my belt as a newspaper journalist.

Not a bad outcome, in my opinion, for something I tried out one day on a whim.

The opportunity John Carroll afforded me to find a passion I didn’t even know I had is what I consider the most valuable part of my college education.

Even if you don’t realize it now, one day you will come to understand the invaluable experience a liberal arts education provides.

I have so many memories from my time at John Carroll that have nothing to do with my physics major or even my eventual career. And these are so much more than just happy memories — they shape the person I’ve become and give me a sensitivity that affects how I interact with people both personally and professionally to this day.

For example, I tutored in inner-city Cleveland, I traveled to Rome over spring break and I spent another Spring Break cleaning up hurricane damage in North Carolina. I worked one summer welcoming freshmen as an orientation adviser, I tried out drama and I realized how much I enjoy photography. The classes that I remember 11 years later are largely the religion, sociology and history classes that I thought at the time I was only taking to check off a requirement.

At John Carroll I never felt pigeonholed due to my major. Much the opposite, I was encouraged every step of the way to expand myself.

So I challenge you, too, to step outside of your comfort zone.

Sign up for a club sport you’ve never heard of, take a class that isn’t required or join a service trip to a place you’ve never heard of.

You may just find your new passion, too.

But even if you don’t, you’ll be one experience richer and one step closer to becoming the unique, empathetic, sensitive and cultured individual who is a John Carroll alumnus.