Musings of an almost-graduate

When I stepped on this campus nine semesters ago, I was afraid. I remember my mom, brother and girlfriend at the time walk out of my Sutherland Hall dorm room and there I was.

A freshman with one friend on campus, about to embark on my journey.

Fast forward those nine semesters and I am all set to graduate and start another chapter of my life. I have no intentions of going on to graduate school, I just hope to one day become a decent reporter, make money and live a nice life somewhere outside
the Midwest.

As my weeks come to a close, I can’t help but feel some remorse and sadness. My collegiate career was filled with great times, great friends and memories that will last a lifetime. But it went by way too fast.

My parents always told me, “Cherish your days in college because they are going to fly by and you’re going to wish you did more.” Surprise, surprise — they were right.

I was walking around on upper campus the first day of my 8 a.m. weight training class in McPhee when I realized I didn’t get up there very often. It was a beautiful day and I immediately thought of my days in the dorms.

I walked around all of upper campus. I visited the corner door of Sutherland where I used to smoke cigarettes past quiet hours and would stick my shoe in the door so I could get back in.

I walked through the humongous green space in front of Towers Hall remembering my 20-pound lighter self playing volleyball in the fall, throwing ice balls in the winter.

I checked my phone and saw it was 55 degrees and sunny. The weather was similar to my first visit to Eau Claire.

I decided to come to UW-Eau Claire over UW-Whitewater, UW-La Crosse and UW-Milwaukee. My mom liked Eau Claire the least, but I didn’t care. I remember the introduction of the blue and the gold, the warmth of my tour guide, the stairs in the woods, the hill, the bridge, the fall colors.

All of these memories will be with me for the rest of my life, but my experiences stop in a few weeks. Looking back, my first two years here were not utilized as well as they could have been and I will regret that for a long time.

To everyone scanning their eyes across these words, seize the day! I always had longings to be part of different on-campus groups or clubs when I was a freshman or sophomore but never pulled the trigger because I was afraid. Don’t be like me, today is the day to use this beautiful campus as much as you can.

Talk to people you didn’t think you would talk to, eat something you didn’t think you would eat. Read that book you never thought you would want to, because this is the place to do it. You grow so much as a student here, but even more as a human being.

Sure, dorm life was great. I met some people I hope to have in my life for a long time, but the first three semesters I was on campus I could have done more.

I went to class, ate, played video games, drank a few beers when no one was looking and that was it. My best friend was my roommate for those first semesters, so it was kind of like high school all over again.

I have always wanted to be a journalist. I’m smart, but only in some ways. I can’t wrap my head around math, I can’t do science because I can’t memorize anything. But I could always write.

Senior year of high school before I got into college, I knew I was going to be a journalist. Stuck in general education courses for a majority of my first few years, I wondered if journalism was even the right thing for me.

I had always peeked in The Spectator office when I had classes in Hibbard Hall and always saw a bunch of students buzzing busily on a bunch of new computers. I wanted to go in there, just to chat, but never mustered up the courage to do so.

Fast forward to first semester junior year at Eau Claire and I’m in my first journalism class. My classmate, a copy editor at the on-campus newspaper at the time saw something in me and urged me to apply. I didn’t think I was good enough, so I declined. It wasn’t until the last day to hand in applications that my classmate brought me one and made me fill it out. I will never forget that day and will always cherish that moment.

I am now am in my fourth semester on staff and Editor in Chief of the paper. I could not have done it without all the people I met on the way. My journalism friends have become my colleagues, my best friends, my family.

I’ve grown up a lot since arriving on this campus. I have done things that make me cringe when I recall them from my painful memory.

I am far away from my home town of Beaver Dam. I can’t go home very often because I’m not the richest person in the world, I can’t afford gas. I’m just another college student eating Ramen noodles. Without this campus and the people whom I have met along the way who have steered my ship straight, I undoubtedly would have sunk.

Professors have taught me many things about life, including how to be a professional. I was petrified of some of the professors I now communicate with daily. Throughout my time at school, and as the head of The Spectator, they have shown me tough love. I am a better person and professional because of it.

I wouldn’t have it any other way.

I continued my walk around upper campus and realized it was time to go back to Hibbard for class. I walked down the hill, checking out the view I have seen thousands of times before, seeing it through fresh eyes.

Through the ups and downs, I wouldn’t have spent my time anywhere else than right here in Eau Claire. My advice to you; don’t let the college experience pass you by, because your time will end. And it will end much quicker than you want it to.