What a time this has been. I don’t think I’ve ever started a piece of writing as blunt as that last sentence, but I can’t find other words to say to sum up the last four years of my life here at Western Michigan University. And although, I’ve fantasized about writing my goodbye column for the Western Herald for awhile, now that the time has come, I’m at a loss for words. It has simply been a time. A time of growing, learning, changing, discovery, independence, sadness, excitement, frustration and joy all sandwiched together into four years. I wasn’t sure what my journey through college was going to look like, but as I approach graduation in just a number of days, I’m proud of the journey I had.
As a first-generation college student, I wasn’t sure what I was getting myself into when my parents dropped me off on the front steps of Britton/Hadley Hall in Valley 1. I remember thinking to myself that everything I was, everything I knew before coming to WMU, was about to change. I was about to start my studies in my dream field, meet a new roommate and share a room with someone for the first time, live away from home, sit in my first college class, and hopefully make new friends. The opportunity to make a life for myself at WMU was sitting at my feet, and it was overwhelming.
Welcome Week came quick and fast freshman year, and I was not in the mood for it. I felt like a child at camp, and wanted to take my own time to get settled in to my new home. Ultimately, I was here for one reason and that was to get a job as a journalist when I graduated. Lucky for me, my first-year experience instructor was a journalism graduate from WMU, and she helped me find a place that was going to be life-changing; the Western Herald.
My experience at the Western Herald was one I could have never predicted. Having no experience in journalism before coming to WMU, I didn’t expect to get a job as a reporter before I had even stepped into my first class. But, to my surprise I did. From that time on, my journey at the Western Herald took off. My freshman year was filled with reporting, covering everything from campus government, to my opinions on how useless WMU’s homecoming is, which still remains the same. Some weeks I had four stories a week on top of being a full-time student, but I loved every minute of it and the work paid off. Sophomore year gave me the opportunity to become the Opinion’s Editor and I spent much of the year being the youngest person on staff. I never would have imagined that I would get promoted so quickly, but it was an honor and reassurance that I was in the right place. From then on, my leadership opportunities at the Herald only grew. I became the Editor-in-Chief of the Western Herald my junior year, and that was one of the hardest jobs I’ve had. From then on, I had the opportunity to meet wonderful mentors who have helped me grow in my career. I’ve taken on three television internships at Local 4 News in Detroit, WOODTV8 in Grand Rapids and HOMTV in Meridian Township, and one national fellowship in Washington, D.C. that allowed me to be the first student ever chosen from the state of Michigan to participate, and I felt unstoppable and was bursting with gratitude.
The purpose of this column isn’t for me to ramble off my resume to you, but instead it’s to let you know that you are unstoppable. Take advantage of your time here and make the most of the resources around you. WMU is a great place for some programs, and a not so great place for other programs. You’ll have days here that you absolutely love, and days here that will absolutely suck. But despite all of that, WMU is a place where you can take the next four years to become anything you want to be. Find your passion and work everyday at it. Get involved. Go outside of your comfort zone, expand your mind, obtain a new perspective. Do all of the things you’ve ever dreamed of because this is your time. It’s not going to be an easy journey, and I’ll be the first to say it. There were so many times that I wanted to give up, that I questioned my worth, that I cried myself to sleep, but there were also so many times that I smiled walking to class because I was here and able to work on achieving my dreams. I came here with no experience in my chosen career, with no idea what I was doing, with low self-esteem, and little confidence, and I am leaving here the opposite. I am leaving here changed.
The support I had from my family, mentors, professors, and friends are what have led me to stay enrolled at WMU and walk across that stage in Miller Auditorium. Thank you to my Western Herald family, especially Zoe, Mikhayla, Emma, and Jordan, for being my girl-gang and holding me up when I’ve felt so low. Thank you to my very best friends Alex, Jacob and Amber for the late nights full of laughter, tears, sassing each other and fantasizing about our futures together. My time here would not have been what it was, if I hadn’t met you guys.
Thank you Western Michigan University for the last four years. It has been a time; a time I will never forget.