With graduation looming, and the realization that I will be moving out of Bethlehem for good in less than two months, I find myself reflecting back on my Lehigh career and have come to that conclusion that it has been an absolute rollercoaster ride.
Like any college student, I’ve experienced my fair share of highs and lows, but I feel as though mine have been amplified by both controllable and uncontrollable factors along the way.
I’ll start with the highs.
I have made a long list of friendships here that I believe will last a lifetime—whether it be through Greek life, classes, The Brown and White or The Goose—shoutout to Tony, Deb and Kev, you guys rock—I am forever grateful for the relationships I have built here at Lehigh.
This place attracts truly special people, and I feel blessed to have been a part of the community in that sense.
I’m eternally grateful for Lehigh’s journalism department. I’d like to give a special shoutout to Jack Lule and Matt Veto in particular. You’ve both helped me build my identity as a writer and find my way at this school academically. I arrived at Lehigh with no sense of what I wanted to study, and I’m so glad I made the decision to take a journalism class in the fall of my sophomore year.
Through long talks with my advisor mapping out classes for my remaining years, critique meetings for the newspaper or abrupt calls late at night to assist with assignments, you both demonstrated something to me that I feel is hard to come by in student-teacher relationships. The professors in the journalism department care so much and want us to succeed.
I want to take this opportunity to thank every professor I’ve had the privilege of learning from in my four years here. No two professors or courses are the same, and I can say with confidence that I have walked away from every class having learned unique perspectives, as well as having gained a sense of growth and accomplishment that will guide me through my professional career.
Like all first-year students, my area of study started broad and ultimately narrowed down when I decided to double-major in journalism and global studies, with a minor in French.
I feel that many of the highs pertain to controllable factors. I decided which classes to take, which friends to surround myself with and what extracurricular activities to partake in.
Like I mentioned before, these highs were met with some serious lows.
Some of these lows were enabled by controllable factors. College is a place of maturation, self-discovery and growth, and I do not hide from the fact that I have made mistakes. I won’t bore you with the details, but my point here is that nobody’s perfect, and if I’ve learned anything from my mistakes, it’s that you cannot let them consume you as I have allowed them to at times.
There were also instances in which I was met with adversity in situations I could not control.
Whether it was the university administration turning seemingly simple tasks into difficult hurdles, a meaningless pause on Greek life that prevented students from seeing close friends in the final months leading up to a global pandemic, personal problems and rising to the occasion for my family in times of need, or the day-to-day challenges of being a college student in the era of COVID-19, I’ve jumped through hoops at this school just to make it to where I am now.
And I don’t say this to complain and exploit all of the university’s shortcomings. This publication has done an excellent job of pointing out things that have needed to be said on behalf of the student body, when Lehigh started transforming into a campus that, to many, looks very different than it did four years ago.
I say this as a thank you, believe it or not.
The obstacles that Lehigh has imposed on me have made me a stronger person, and I will be better off for it in the post-grad world. Had the university pampered its students and handed everything to them, I feel we would all be less prepared for greater challenges that will arise in the future.
I want to thank Lehigh for teaching me how to take challenges head on and not let them eat me alive. I know I will encounter issues of many kinds later in life, but I feel the school has helped me greatly in that regard.
It’s been a turbulent four years, but I’m grateful for the opportunities presented to me during my time here.
Lastly, and most importantly, I want to thank my family for supporting and guiding me through many of the highs and lows I’ve mentioned here. I know I have not made it easy on you, but we’ve gotten through it together. Knowing you were always there with advice made me feel like I was never alone, and this piece hardly does justice to the appreciation and gratitude I have for you.
I love you very much and I can’t wait to see you in the crowd at graduation come May.