A thank you: The venture of departing

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Columnist/Web Editor
@neilk34neil, neilk34@gmail.com

It has taken me some 13 years and three attempts to graduate college. No, I’m not a doctor or lawyer – and I still don’t know what I want to be as I venture into the big, bad world that follows college.
That ignorance is scary, but it is a good thing.
I’m not pigeonholed into any genre. I am free to write whatever I’d like.
Without fail, when I tell people that I write, they ask me what I write.
I write poetry, sports, songs, flash fiction, news stories, short stories, newsletters, magazine stories, letters and once a horrible screenplay about aliens starring Samuel L. Jackson. In short, I write everything I can. So I give them the best answer available.
I write words.
After all, I don’t know what I want to be. I just want to write, and so I’ll try to write anything.
The old college try isn’t just about falling asleep on a stack of books at the library because you’ve exhausted yourself. It’s about trying things.
Like life, college is about exploring options.
Yes, even if it takes you thirteen years to finish your first degree.
This, for me, means much more than going to class on a regular basis.
Outside of class, I am president of the Communication Studies Club, a writer and editor for The Preface, and the outreach assistant for the Ernestine M. Raclin School of the Arts. I also did an internship writing sports for the South Bend Tribune.
I learned as much doing these other things as I did in classrooms.
I didn’t know what the Communication Studies Club could offer me, but I decided to try it because I thought I had something to offer it. There I learned how to organize an event with visiting lecturers, how to be a leader in meetings, and how to help a diverse group of people realize their group goals.
There isn’t a value that I can attach to the experience of The Preface or to working for the school of the arts. Both positions helped me grow immensely as a writer and as a professional, but I didn’t know that when I agreed to take on either job.
I was scared to take on the internship at the South Bend Tribune. I didn’t think I was ready to contribute at that level. In a way I was right, but that’s what learning is about, being ignorant and brave enough to fill that lack of knowledge with experience. I met some fantastic writers and editors at the tribune and learned enough to fill this entire paper.
I still have more things to squeeze into my head. Graduating is a big step forward, but not the end of my education.
I’m going to continue to try new things as a writer and as a lifelong learner.
Thank you to Michele Morgan-Dufour, Marvin Curtis, Ken Klimek, Alec Hosterman, Kari Wilson, to all of my professors and to my classmates who have become my friends. As I step across the stage in May you are walking with me with our eyes on the horizon and facing the brightness of the future’s dawn.
Of all the things I can say to thank you, I can’t say anything deserving enough for all you’ve done. I’ll have to go out and earn it.
I just hope that I’ve left my college a little better for having me during my extended stay.

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