Five years ago, I never would have thought I would be where I am today. Coming into college, I was convinced I was going to go to medical school and become a doctor. I was wrong. Very wrong.
I learned in my first semester here that I did not have a science brain but didn’t accept that fact until the end of my second semester. I changed my major about four times before I was completely satisfied. I had always loved reading and writing, but everyone I knew told me that unless I became a teacher, I wouldn’t make it. Through my time here at Monmouth, I learned that wasn’t true. I became an English major to pursue my passion, but I learned quickly that I was missing something in order to be completely satisfied.
During my freshman year, I attended the involvement fair. I saw so many different clubs and activities that I had no idea existed and I wanted to join everything. When I saw the table for The Outlook, I knew I had to sign up. I have always loved the idea of writing for a newspaper, especially while in college. I dreamed of starting my own advice column and can admit that putting that into action did not go as I planned. Apparently, college students don’t seek advice as much as they should. I thought students would send more questions that I could answer, but even opening up the questions to faculty, I got nothing. Freshman year, unlike other editors, I did not write for The Outlook. Not because I didn’t want to, but because I never received an email or anything that would connect me to them.
When I finally started writing for The Outlook, I was still only an English major. I loved what I was doing. Being able to tell a story, whether it was my opinion or a features story, was something I looked forward to every week.
The beginning of my junior year, I decided to add a second major communication. When I did this, I learned that there was so much more I could do to make myself happy. I could do the job I had always thought was a dream. I have decided to pursue a sports relations job, and although I do not yet have a job, I know attending Monmouth has prepared me for my future.
My time here at Monmouth has been the craziest ride of my life. Just like any good rollercoaster, these past few years have been filled with a bunch of ups and downs. I grew up as an only child. Other than sleepovers. I never had to share my room. That was a major shock to me. Don’t get me wrong, I knew I would be sharing a room, but I did not expect it to go the way it did. Some of the roommate experiences I had were out of this world, and I don’t mean that in a good way, but I have also been blessed with roommates as well.
I met some of my best friends here. Some in classes, some as roommates, and some by chance. I have had some friends that turned to enemies, and friends that are now strangers who share a few memories. Some professors that I was lucky enough to experience class with have become more that just professors. Some have become mentors, some have become friends, and some I like to think are the reasons I am here, graduating with two degrees and memories I couldn’t have gotten elsewhere.
There are a few people I want to thank starting with my mom: the woman who raised me on her own, taught me about life, and, most importantly, dealt with me when no one else wanted. She didn’t question me when I called her crying because I was stressed for no reason; instead, she told me that there was nothing I couldn’t do.
I want to thank my uncle, who was the dad I always needed, a sounding board for all my crazy ideas, and the person I could count on for a good lecture. He was always there when I needed him whether it was a ride to campus or a few dollars to buy the week’s groceries, my uncle always had my back. He was the person who told me I could do something even when the rest of the world doubted me.
Then there are all of my nieces and nephews. My inspiration, my distraction, and the ones who could make any bad day better. Whenever I was freaking out over assignments or exams, with one phone call, they made me feel as if I held the whole world in my hands. I instantly felt better talking to them about the little things. I wanted to show them that I could make it in a field people thought I never could, and they can too.
To my professors, thank you for taking the time to teach me. But there are two professors in particular that I want to thank. I met Noel Belisnski, a Professor in the English department, the summer before freshman year during my EOF summer academy. It is because of her that I became an English major. In high school I was told I wasn’t a good enough writer, but she read one of my creative pieces and told me I needed to be an English major. Of course it took me over a year before I listened. She taught me that I am constantly going to be given people’s opinions, but it is who I choose to listen to that matters.
Then there is professor Shannon Hokanson. Like Professor Belinski, I met her during my EOF summer academy, and she changed my life. I would often go see her in her office just to chat or vent about my classes. I never thought to be a communication major, mostly because I didn’t know what people who majored in that did in the real world, but she showed me it is more than standing on a stage and talking, and I quickly fell in love. Professor Hokanson is known for her kindness and endearing names, but she truly changed my life when she changed the way I saw myself. I have never thought I was good enough, and she told me one day that I needed to stop thinking that way because I was destined for greatness. I will never forget that. Just like I will never forget them or the impact they had on me. Thank you for teaching me how to be me.
Lastly, I want to thank the EOF department here at Monmouth because for those of you who don’t know, without them I would not have been able to get the education I have. Coming from a unique background, EOF provided me with opportunities I never thought would be within my reach. EOF was more than just a scholarship to me. It was a second family I am so glad I got to be a part of.
I want to thank Elizabeth O’Brian, the EOF director, for taking a chance on me in the first place. For sticking it out and being the only person left from the EOF team I entered with, and pushing me past what I didn’t want to face. It is also important that I take a minute to thank Cassandra Figueroa, my EOF counselor. Cassandra provided me with much needed advice and conversation, validated my feelings, and always provided me with a good laugh. She always made sure to remind me to take time for myself, something I often forget to do, and she believed in me when I was too nervous to believe in myself.
I cant believe this is the end, but it sure has been a pleasure.