As a student, it is easy to forget why we are attending college at all. Too often we get caught up in the dates and assignments, the exams that seem to come in floods every few weeks, the stress of juggling sports, activities, good health, socialization and the almost always forgotten, getting enough sleep. Sometimes, striking a balance between all our responsibilities is incredibly difficult, and it doesn’t leave us with much time to sit back and think about what we are really doing here. So, friends, fellow students and even faculty, I suggest we take a few minutes to do just that.
Do you remember, as a child, dreaming of what you were going to do when you grew up? I remember being young and thinking that one day, I would attend a beautiful college, study something that interested me and get a job doing something I loved. I also thought I was going to own a bakery, a huge library with hidden rooms for more books and have a house with a slide in it. For some, this dream of college is just that, a dream, like many of the childish ones we all had. But for those of us who are here at Saint Vincent, this dream has become much more of a reality. Often, however, it doesn’t feel like a dream. Stress, anxiety, homesickness, these are all challenges we are faced with every day, and they can make us question why we put ourselves through the whole ordeal. What are we gaining from the experience of college, specifically from pursuing a degree at a liberal arts college?
I would like to go out on a limb and say that it is not to get a job. Our time here is not simply the means to an end. Certainly, attaining a job in our chosen field after graduation is a wonderful and much-hoped-for side effect, but I see an issue with assuming that it is the only reason we are here. Instead, I propose that the reason we are here, the reason we all chose to attend a small, liberal arts school, was to get an education. We are here to learn. To learn about our respective majors, of course, but also to go beyond that – to reach out of our comfort zones and into that which we may not have the chance to experience later in life. We are here to become well-rounded human beings, to figure out who we are and what we like and what we have to offer the world. We came here to learn about other people, to build relationships and learn how to communicate our ideas concisely and effectively. For me, this realization is what gets me through the rough weeks. It has been my saving grace.
It would make my whole year if I found out I was not alone in this opinion. I hope that there are those of you among me, whether you are my peers or my professors, who share the belief that the goal of our four years here at Saint Vincent is the development of the whole person. I hope that we can work together to create ways to foster this development, and to participate in those which are already established. Take that class on making stained glass, or on childhood literature or astronomy! Go to that lecture even though the topic isn’t in your field of study! Volunteer at the local food drive, or talk to somebody not in your major about their classes! Grab a coffee with your best friend, and take a few minutes every day to be grateful that you are here. I am thankful that at least one of my childhood dreams has come true – I’ll keep you posted on the whole slide-in-house thing, I’m not sure I’m ready to give that one up just yet – and I hope that being here has helped make your dreams a reality, too.