By: CHRISTINA CLARK
In 2007, I graduated from Penn High School. iPods and cellphones still had buttons. Rock Band and Guitar Hero were making all of us into wannabe basement bands. Low rider jeans were “in” and guys in black eyeliner were “scene.” The economy was on the verge of one of its worst moments. If you had told me that touch screen everything and AirPods existed in 2019, I would have told you were full of it and gone back to listening to metal at ear drum damaging volumes.
When I arrived on campus at IU South Bend in 2007—I was disappointed. At 19, I was uninspired because I didn’t give the campus a fair shot. So many of my friends went “away” to school, that I felt trapped in my locality. I spent two semesters showing up to about half of my classes, and inevitably took a break to go pursue another job. At 24, I knew I needed to come back to IU South Bend, and this time my experience was completely different. I have grown to love this campus, difficult parking and all. (That “job” has become a decade long career, by the way. Not bad for failing out and trying something new for a little bit!)
What I wish I knew a decade ago, is that nobody has life all figured out yet. Not even a little bit. I would get completely overwhelmed by classes and just shut down. But asking for help is actually a good thing. Setting small goals, and trying new things, are important.
Being hired onto the staff of this publication was the biggest vote of confidence I had in the beginning of my academic career. With my poor academic record from my first attempt, my first advisor wasn’t really invested in me. It took until my grades improved to start seeing any real path. I started taking on internships and jobs in the field. I’ve learned a lot of lessons conventionally and unconventionally, and I’ve learned what it takes to fix, or live with, your mistakes.
My degree track in Communication Studies has helped me face my anxieties in ways I never thought I’d be able. I have met some of the most interesting people this way, and made some of my most respected colleagues and friends in this program.
I’m not sure that I ever believed that I would graduate, that this would come to an end, as a non-traditional student. The educations, both formal and informal, are invaluable. I am grateful for this publication and wish it the best in its future. Goodbyes are not a skill I have perfected yet. So, I will say, to those of you who touched my experience here—thank you. Also—you can stay up late doing whatever, but go to class in the morning. That’s something younger me definitely needed to hear. (Thanks for believing in me when I didn’t, Mom and Dad. I did it!)
Signing off one last time, Christina Clark