As you have probably learned if you saw the front page of this issue, this is likely to be the last issue of the University Leader, at least for this year. Since I no longer have until May to write my last, great farewell, it has to come now.
I’ll try not to make this all about myself. The lesson that I learned from working at the Leader in some capacity for almost four years is that involvement is crucial in the college experience.
Everyone comes to college for a different reason. Some want only to get a degree and get out, while others seek companionship, parties, career preparation, or knowledge for its own sake. No reason is more valid than the others.
What some might not realize is that this university is brimming with groups, clubs and organizations that can offer every single thing that you look for in a college experience. The great diversity of groups on campus can cater to anyone. Sports, activity groups and even on-campus jobs provide valuable experience, both for practical application and for a place on a resume.
More importantly, though, they can provide bonds with people that last a lifetime. Most of my best friends I met through working at the Leader, and in my long time here I have seen people grow and change. People who initially showed up out of curiosity become reliable writers, editors and photographers. The change is obvious: increased skill, increased confidence — maybe even increased happiness.
Though I can’t vouch for every group, I think I can safely assume that such positive effects occur with everyone. Working next to the Felten-Start Theatre in Malloy Hall, I have seen the camaraderie between the members of the Theatre Department. Students in the Music Department are some of the most warm and welcoming people imaginable, always willing to point me in the direction of someone when I am at a loss for the Artist’s Corner.
The moral of this column, if there has to be one, is not to be afraid or intimidated by the vast legions of students and activities here. This advice is primarily aimed at freshmen, though I hope all students will be able to relate.
I remember my first day at Fort Hays, when the campus seemed so large and the students strange and unfriendly. This is not so. Nearly everyone has a story to tell.
As a journalist, it has been my pleasure to learn this, and to share their stories. What I had intended to be short, concise interviews occasionally became 30-minute affairs, where I learned without asking all of the interviewee’s hopes, fears, dreams and desires.
This is the true value of the college experience: connections. Deep, enduring, unforgettable connections with students, teachers, faculty — everyone.
I have shared an office with clever, hilarious, brilliant people over the last four years; I have shared a building with three fantastic departments — and the friendliest custodian in the world. I have shared a campus with such a diverse mix of people, young and old.
This is my farewell column. It is not a sad farewell, because when I cast my mind across the last four years of my life, all I see are the stories of the people who have intersected with my road.
My final advice is for everyone to try something new, join a club or make connections in whatever way seems best. That is how the best memories are born.