By: Andrew Koerner – Columnist
Congratulations everyone! We’ve made it to the end of another school year. Although it hasn’t hit me yet, I’m sure that will change by the time I pack my bags and turn in my keys. For now though, the only thought on my mind is “it’s time.” When something ends, isn’t that what we all want to be able to say?
I feel ready and hope that all graduates do, as well; for the past four or five years, this is why we’ve been working so hard. I wouldn’t have been able to say, “I’m ready” a year ago, but as a fifth year, I’ve filled my days with many of the things that I have wanted to do but did not have the chance to do before. My experience at the University of Dayton became one worth having when I started to embrace not only the specific opportunities at UD, but the fact that college in general is a trial run for the real world.
In a few weeks, I’ll be starting a career in Cincinnati and moving to the city where I’m free to meet new people and explore many opportunities. For the first time in years, there won’t be an immediate support system by my side as I adjust to this new life. This isn’t an incredibly unique story for a postgrad and I’m sure there are plenty of people in similar situations. There are days where I’m scared of the unknown. When that happens, I think about where I started at UD and how proud I am to have grown to the person I am today.
The beginning of my time at UD was lackluster as I struggled in engineering classes, failed to meet people that inspired me and strove to form my own identity. I will admit that my attitude was poor and I lacked self-confidence as well as any desire to embrace the people around me.
Fast forward to sophomore year and I started a new job as a Resident Assistant in Stuart Hall. As I began this chapter of my life, I was encouraged to talk to as many professionals in Housing and Residence Life as possible and hear their stories of success. For the first time, I was embracing the people around me and as a result, I fell in love with what I was doing.
By the time I was a junior, I had become very good at building community and it felt like a brand new beginning for me at UD. My staff in Stuart that year was like the freshmen floor I felt I should have had my first year and that staff led to some of the most cherished friendships I have today. In the very first article I wrote for Flyer News, I recalled this time of my life and explained an attitude I adopted called “doing all of the things.” Doing all of the things is exactly what it sounds like and it was key to my continued growth at UD; although I was very happy, I was not going to become complacent with my life when there were opportunities everywhere I looked on campus.
So, at the end of the day, I can look back and profoundly say that I did maybe not all of the things, but a lot of the things. I wanted to grow as an engineer so I co-oped. I wanted to incorporate service into my life so I participated in the University of Dayton Summer Appalachia Program and UD’s semester of service program. I wanted to grow as a musician so I signed up for a performance guitar class and formed a band.
As many of my closest friends also go off to pursue amazing things, it’s hard to leave Dayton, but I know that it won’t feel like my home for much longer. I’m certain there will be hard days when I move to Cincinnati, but that will be due to unfamiliarity. I’m confident that in time I will meet the right people and begin doing all of the things that the city has to offer. It may even lead me to previously unknown passions. I just have to keep exploring new things and challenging myself. Think of it as clicking the go button.
Anything worth having takes work and I will remember that going forward. I had the pleasure of visiting New Zealand in January 2014. On the final day of a 55-mile hike through Marlborough Sounds, I witnessed the most beautiful sight I’ve seen, to this day, at the top of the Queen Charlotte Track. If I were to have taken a helicopter to the top, I know the sight wouldn’t have been nearly as beautiful. Similarly, if I had fast-forwarded to graduation when I was a struggling first year, leaving wouldn’t be as beautiful either. The struggle and time put into the journey mean more than the end result.
So remember, this was the trial run for a life of endless possibility. Embrace the tears when it’s time to leave; it means you had an experience worth having. Keep all of the lessons you learned at UD close to you and watch what happens going forward. The best is yet to come.