By: DYLAN LEMERT
The beginning of my freshman year at IU South Bend (all the way back in August of 2009, which means I’m officially older than most of you), I couldn’t have told you what I wanted to do with the rest of my life. I couldn’t have told you if I even belonged in college.
For a stint in high school, I actually thought I wanted to be a cop. That thinking soon faded along with graduation and then I was back to square one. I had no idea what I wanted to study, let alone turn into a permanent occupation.
For the first two years on campus I sulked around major-less. I was scared to death. I toyed around with new media and then English, but the prospect of locking myself into a dedicated field of study only seemed to enhance my fears.
“It’s just so much pressure,” I would think. “Am I sure I even belong here?”
My problem, as I now see it retrospectively, was simply that I had yet to discover a passion. As an underclassman, I hadn’t yet had the chance to peer into the classrooms of those many professors fervently teaching the subjects they loved, nor had I spent enough time coming into contact with those students–though I know many now–who soaked up academia like a sponge.
I can’t say exactly when it was that things shifted for me, only that things did eventually shift. I noticed my general attitude towards college began to change, and along with it, found myself gravitating towards something I thought I might even like to make a career of someday.
Finally! (And while I’m at it, let this be a good time to shamelessly plug the communication studies program.)
But in all honesty, were it not for an atmosphere that cultivated a pursuit of knowledge, I highly doubt I’d ever have landed where I did. This is why I believe events like IU South Bend’s Undergraduate Research Conference are so crucial to the modern learning environment. They’re a chance for students who are passionate about something to pass on that passion to someone else; a chance to introduce an uninhibited love of learning to others.
Those were the people who got me through- the passionate ones. They’re the ones giving presentations on gender roles in the media or painstakingly doing research on the properties of dark matter simply because they love this stuff. They’re people to admire.
Maybe you’re totally unsure, as I was not long ago, about what drives you. I promise you this is okay, even while peers and the uber-competitive job market seem to dictate otherwise. Let me also remind you that college may just be the perfect place for you, then. This is what your classes and your professors and your advisor and programs like the Undergraduate Research Conference are all ultimately for, after all: to help guide you in pursuit of your passion.
I’ll be graduating in December. I’m in the final leg of my time here at IU South Bend. I have some regrets. I wish I learned to love learning earlier on, for instance. But I have no regrets when it comes to where I’m at now. I hope all of you will one day say the same about yourselves.
Five years ago, I couldn’t have told you if college was really for me. I kept my head down and stayed anyway. And I’m still here.