When I started college in 2018, I was experiencing a dissolution of my identity. I attended 13 years of a conservative religious school, and had a burning need to have my voice heard and take control of my own path.
In the last four years I have been through so much personal change and transformation it is crazy. On the other side of this venture, what I can say is, I know who I am, and I am ecstatic to walk across the stage. College has been so much more than just a four-year degree for me.
For many students, they will experience loss, joy, accomplishment, friendship, and grief. These are just a few of the words I would use to describe the situations I faced in college. No matter what university you attend state, private, community, chances are your world will be turned upside down, shaken around like a piñata and all roads will become an uphill battle at some point.
I have been pushed to limits I did not know existed while attaining my degree. I’ve spent many days coming home exhausted, my body aching and my mind panicking about the work yet to be done. All of this is not to say that college is bad. I share this because A: I do not want my experience as a student and EIC to be boiled down to a success story wrapped in a bow because it would not be worth celebrating if it was not honest. And B: while I have been through so much, I have achieved things I thought were beyond my reach and that frankly I used to think I was not worthy of. These achievements have been in my personal, academic, and professional life.
For me, going to college was the best decision I could have made after high school. Although I came from a 30-person graduating class in high school and starting at a 5,000-person public university was like being thrown in the deep end, fully clothed and wearing ankle weights, I do not regret it in the slightest. I love the SU community, not because we are perfect or we always get along, but because we are passionate people who do not stop fighting to create the world, we want to live in. The students here are fierce, and I have seen them time and time again stand up and speak out for the things they believe in. What I ask of all the Raiders behind me is that you keep fighting. No matter if the changes you want to see are in your dorm hall or in the culture of this campus, that change will not be achieved unless you take action. Just remember, treat yourself well and take a rest every now and then.
The Communication, Journalism and Media Department on this campus is another facet that has deeply impacted my life. My professors, mentors, and adviser have more than adequately prepared me to succeed as a journalist. They’re classes and wisdom enabled me to drive myself to Washington D.C. and report live when the presidential election results were announced. My department hands down, is an incredible program.
One of the CJM Department professors, Michael Drager, has been an inspiration for me since I met him while touring the university. When I left the presentation about the CJM department which he had spoken at, I promptly turned to my dad and said, “that old guy was so passionate about journalism!” and that was my first impression of him. He continually brings his love for the craft and enthusiasm of teaching the next generation to everything he does at SU.
Of course, college experience wouldn’t have been accomplished without the support and friendship of my fellow Slaters. Hannah Pollock, my predecessor and news mother has been a pillar of support and encouragement for me not just this year, but since I first joined The Slate. She taught me almost everything I know about The Slate and has put up with all of my antics. I couldn’t have asked for a better friend or mentor.
Last but certainly not least, I’m going to boast about my Slaters. The 2021-2022 Slate Staff is an incredible group of people. No matter what capacity you served in this year, know that this goes out to you. This year’s staff brought you 22 editions of The Slate and was the first staff to serve fully on campus since Spring 2020. They published just about everything from breaking news to personality profiles of you classmates, to sports and SU traditions that have finally made a comeback. We had started out with only 6 section heads (including myself) when we normally have 10. We ended the year with a student behind every section head desk and a number of assistant editors, directors, and contributors. They spent the hours in between their classes, late nights, weekends, holidays, even school breaks laying out pages and writing to bring SU quality news coverage. Their dedication and hard work is what kept The Slate running as we recovered from a global pandemic. Although my time at SU has come to a close, I will be keeping in touch and following The Slate because I cannot wait to see what they will do next year. To my Slaters, you are a talented group of people and have a bright path ahead of you. It was an honor to be your EIC and work with you.
Now that I’ve talked your ear off, I’ll wrap up my goodbye. These past four years have been so precious to me. At Shippensburg University and through our community I was given the chance to live my life as my most authentic self. Through the Slate I finally found my voice because my peers empowered me and supported me. I am no longer of afraid of the world or of standing my ground. I look forward to walking across the stage and into my future. Words can barely describe the feeling finally living my life as I truly am. Thank you to everyone who helped me and supported me along the way. I love you all dearly