A lot can change in a year. It’s amazing to me to reflect on the last seven and a half months and to see where we’ve grown as an institution.
The past year has been huge for news, both on the national level and our campus. The country has a new president. Wittenberg has hired a president to start next school year, and a new First Year Seminar director. A former Wittenberg professor was murdered in Florida. Two Wittenberg student-athletes died leading into the school year. A car crashed into a Wittenberg home. The Campus Ministries House is changing locations. Faculty and staff took a stand to make themselves known as unaffiliated with secret societies. COMPASS was established as the center of student resource services. The list goes on and on.
I can honestly say that it was not the easiest year to be Editor-in-Chief, or a Wittenberg student. There were times of great trial and confusion for me personally — realizing I’ve been called internationally in my career — and as a leader, as a student and as a citizen of the world. And there were several moments where I wanted to throw in the towel, terrified of the future and devastated by circumstances beyond my control.
But the thing I love most about Wittenberg, the thing that kept me going, was the sense of community, a community of love and respect. English professor Kate Polak, one of my most treasured mentors and friends, helped me to find the strength to continue in these hard times through one simple word of advice: persist.
And I did persist. As we all did. Together.
Through my four years at this university, I’ve come to realize the beautiful understanding and empathy human beings can have, how patient, loving, accepting and supportive we can be. I’ve been in classrooms where students have been so emotionally distraught over something going on in the world news that the professor stops lecture and opens the floor for the class to share their feelings and discuss their fears.
I’ve seen students pay for things for others they knew could not afford it. I’ve watched in awe as my peers have been generous with their time and efforts for causes greater than Wittenberg, for Lesotho, TigerThon, the attacks on Paris and so many others, holding fundraisers or vigils. Wittenberg students do more than the average college student; they have a capacity for hope and believing in others, taking a stand against prejudice and intolerance, and for helping the world to thrive together as one.
With less than a month until graduation, I’m overwhelmed with emotion. It’s been a frustrating time to be a Wittenberg student and person, but it’s also been so rewarding. I’ve learned so much about myself, about strength and courage, about passion and determination, and I wouldn’t be the person I am today without having lived the Wittenberg dream. It wasn’t always easy, but nothing in life is.
And I don’t want to go.
But I know that I’ve received the greatest education I could have ever experienced. A university is more than books, and more than the news on the front page. It’s all about the people who shape you into the person you are, who celebrate the good times and hold you through the bad.
Because of Wittenberg, I’m ready to be the person I was meant to be. And I will always call Wittenberg home, and its student body my family. And above all, I will believe in our ability to persist, and in our humanity.