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Let's Just Call This..."Senior See Ya Later" | Nicole Ingraffia's Senior Goodbye

Ingraffia 1College was filled with four years of firsts for me. I would be the first one in my immediate family to earn my degree. I had my first real heart break. For the first time ever, I left the country and studied abroad in Australia. I lost a loved one for the very first time; I miss you Grandpa. I hopped my first fence leaving a party. It was the first time I felt like I was meant to be somewhere.

Coming to Monmouth was an actual dream come true. Opening up my acceptance letter flooded me with emotions. When I read the words “Dear Nicole, Congratulations!” I felt like I was on top of the world. However, it was a steep slope down realizing that affording tuition wasn’t practical.

When you’re 18 and from a small town, you constantly dream about the day you leave for college with the naivety that nothing can stand in your way. But ultimately, the block in the road is usually reality.

When my family and I analyzed the options, I realized there weren’t many. I tucked my acceptance letter away on my desk and suddenly the way I had always pictured my future was taking a turn.

Ingraffia 2My mom is a hairdresser—she is also the epitome of independence and hard work—and a week or so after I received my acceptance letter, she was venting to one of her customers about how devastating our situation was.

Ironically, the woman in her chair was a financial aid consultant at another school and informed her of a program called the Educational Opportunity Fund (EOF) which is a scholarship to provide access to highly motivated scholars from New Jersey who come from a low-income background and exhibit the potential to achieve an undergraduate education.

EOF’s subpage on the university site states, “Our scholars are provided full-time admission, financial support, and comprehensive services necessary to achieve academic success, foster personal growth, and promote career development.”

After a thousand phone calls made by my mom and my stepdad, I was one of the last people out of hundreds to be accepted for an interview. After a very competitive process, I received a new acceptance letter that changed my life. “Dear Nicole, Welcome to the EOF program.”

Ingraffia 3Everyone has their Monmouth story, but I hold mine so close to my heart.

Coming into school, I was a health studies student. My plan was to become an occupational therapist to help people with multiple sclerosis, which affects my dad. I realized, however, after two semesters and asking the kid next to me to “stop writing in cursive so I can read his test,” that maybe molecular biology wasn’t for me.

That semester, I busted my butt and STILL got my very first “D” which is O.K., because sometimes you win, sometimes you learn.

I always knew I had a niche for writing and was creative and quick with social media, but I never realized I could find a career based off my passions.

Sophomore year, I switched my major to communication and never looked back. I never knew how smart I was until I was in classes catered to my talents and interests; all of this lead to where I am right now.

Ingraffia 4Looking back on these past four years, my 18 year old self would be so proud. Ultimately, because of Monmouth, I was able to find who I was meant to be all along—but I couldn’t do it without my people.

Mom and Jeff: The words THANK YOU barely brush the surface when it comes to everything you’ve sacrificed for me to have this college experience. You two work so hard and motivate me everyday to be the best person I can be. No classroom can compare to the life lessons you have taught me. I love you guys and I am so lucky that you led me here.

Daddy: Thank you for being my biggest fan and always making me feel like a superstar, even when I don’t see my shine. I miss you everyday but when we see each other, we are two peas in a pod and it’s like we never missed a beat. You are so strong and taught me how to be unapologetically myself. I love you so much!

Ingraffia 5Grandpa and Gam: You two are my best friends and I am so grateful to have the bond we do. I cannot expres s how truly appreciative I am for everything you have done for me  throughout these past 4 years. One of my all-time favorite memories was last semester, when Grandpa took me to learn how to ride the NYC subway two weekends in a tow before I started my internship. Then, when we came home, Grandma would have dinner ready as she  recalled the days she lived in the city and giving me lessons on the “streets” and the “aves.”

Grandpa: Although you’re not here anymore, I feel your spirit in everything I do. I miss having our morning coffee together and your wide eyes looking at me while you asked every question possible about what Monmouth was like. Thank you for teaching me that with a full tank of gas, an open heart, and a cautious mind, you can get anywhere in life. I wish I had the chance to show you around Monmouth, but I know you are always watching over.

Ingraffia 6Mikey and Jay: Are you guys my big brothers or bodyguards? It’s hard to tell sometimes with the two of you. I look up to you both in so many ways. The most priceless thing is when we all are in one place together. You both work so hard and overcome any struggle that comes along with the bravest faces.

Brian: When I met you two weeks before sophomore year started, you got a glimpse at what a handful I’d be. In a blink of an eye, you were taking a girl you hardly knew to get her wisdom teeth out; then suckered into moving her into her dorm two days after. You were right by my side, whether you were happy about it or not, through every detail of college. From helping me paint sorority crafts or coming over just to watch me write a paper, to you visiting me in Australia when I studied abroad or sitting through my dance practices, you were there. Thank you. I love you!

Jessica: My first best friend, my sister, my partner in crime, and my role model. It was bound to happen that I would follow your footsteps to Monmouth, join the same sorority, and hold the same position you did. You have been my home away from home throughout our Monmouth Journey and I cannot imagine it without you. I know you will be right next to me on my wedding day and we are nowhere near done making memories.

Ingraffia 7Alpha Omicron Pi: I went from having just two brothers to having 100 sisters just by opening up a bid to AOII. Joining a sorority was not on my bucket list prior to coming here, but I am so thankful I reconsidered when I met all of you. Because of this organization, I had the opportunity to step out of my comfort zone and take on incredible leadership roles. Thank you to each of you for believing in me and making me feel loved every day. I know our sisterhood truly is for life, not just four years.

Sydney: Squid, I never knew my other half existed until I met you. From the moment you moved into the room next to me freshman year, I knew the future had something in the works for us. Ever since, people can’t say one of our names without saying the other in the same sentence. Living with you has given me the best memories (and taught me neither of us are good at killing spider crickets.) Wherever life takes us after this, I know you will stay permanent. Thank you for being the tougher half of me and always having my back.

Ingraffia 8Audrey: Although we only met a year ago, it’s like we have known each other in a past life. You are so much more than my “little” and you truly were the last piece I needed to complete my college experience. Although i’m the older one, I look up to you more than you know. Thank you for the study dates, the sleepovers, and reminding me that sometimes, you have to make your own sunshine.

Professor Morano: I always heard of people meeting the professor who inspired them to pursue their career path or changed their life. Ever since “Intro to Journalism,” I knew I found that professor. You turned a confused health studies drop-out into a journalist and even more so, pushed me to give being on the newspaper staff a chance. When I emailed you saying that I was considering stepping down from the role of Entertainment Editor, you took a step not many professors would take—you offered your insight and reassured I could call you if I had more  hesitation. And after a lengthy phone call, you completely changed my mind to give it a chance; I am so thankful for that, because this job was so much more rewarding than any internship.

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In Loving Memory of My Grandpa

1923-2017

Contact Information

CAMPUS LOCATION
The Outlook
Jules L. Plangere Jr. Center for Communication
and Instructional Technology (CCIT)
Room 260, 2nd floor

MAILING ADDRESS
The Outlook
Monmouth University
400 Cedar Ave, West Long Branch, New Jersey
07764

Phone: (732) 571-3481 | Fax: (732) 263-5151
Email: outlook@monmouth.edu