Inspiring minds, transforming lives. If you’ve had the privilege of walking John Carroll University’s beautiful campus, you’ve seen the Forever Carroll banners proclaiming this statement. As I finish up my final week of classes, I feel compelled to echo the truth of this slogan. It’s more than just a catchy marketing ploy – the past four years of my life have been nothing short of transformative.
I’ve never loved a place as much as I love JCU. Lately, everything from the way the clock tower looks in the sunlight to the scent of the old books in Grasselli Library has rendered me misty-eyed and overly-sentimental. But it wasn’t always this way.
The first time I set foot on campus, I had so much nervous energy coursing through my veins that almost threw up before I even entered the student center for orientation. I’m not kidding; I apologize to anyone who had the misfortune of seeing me gagging outside the building, green-faced and clammy.
I had a rough time transitioning, terrified to be separated from the security of my family and horrified at the prospect of being forced to become independent when I had no idea how to even begin to do so. If you would have told me at that point in my life that I would actually call this place home, or make the number of incredible friends that I did, or learn to become comfortable and confident in my own skin, I would have stared at you in utter disbelief. But that’s exactly what happened, and my experience here was more wonderful than my wildest daydreams could have ever imagined.
It’s impossible for me to put into words, especially in the confines of a short column, how many opportunities JCU has blessed me with over the past four years, but I can list some of the highlights:
I followed my passion for journalism thanks to my professor and advisor, the incomparable Carrie Buchanan. I found a best friend and partner-in-crime in my roommate of four years, Gina Torek. I discovered some of Cleveland’s gems, including Shaker Square, the Cedar Lee Theatre and West 25th Street. I laughed harder than I’ve ever laughed in my life and reveled in the feeling of true happiness with friends. I experienced the joy of seeing my byline on the front page of The Carroll News for the first time.
I got a late start at The CN, entering the newsroom my junior year and starting out as the late-shift copy editor. On my first fateful night in the newsroom, I stayed until five in the morning editing pages. Before I left, bleary-eyed and disoriented, the campus editors at the time, Ryllie Danylko and Spencer German, asked me to be their assistant, and the rest was history.
Like my start to college, my start to the newspaper was at first filled with nerves and uncertainty, but soon I was calling the newsroom my second home and forming lifelong friendships with my fellow editors. During my time at The CN, I’ve been given the opportunity to interview everyone from a group of sassy drag queens to author Alissa Nutting to the infamous Cabbie D. I was given a platform to write about my struggles with anxiety through The CN’s staff commentary. It’s difficult for me to say farewell and grasp the fact that I will never design another front page with the Bernstein to my Woodward, Abigail Rings.
Throughout my college journey, aside from academic knowledge, I also garnered countless life lessons, which I try to remind myself of as often as possible:
Focus on serving others, not yourself.
You are a person of worth, even when you screw up, and your mistakes don’t define you. You don’t need to punish yourself. You are loved.
Never stop pushing yourself. Don’t settle, and keep fighting for what you believe in.
Ad majorem Dei gloriam.