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As I sit here and write this, I’m in disbelief. I just finished my thesis, but haven't really processed the fact that these are my last few weeks at Arcadia. It’s truly baffling how quickly my time as a Knight has passed, but I’m eternally grateful for everything I have learned at Arcadia over the last two years.
I transferred to Arcadia in Fall 2019. I had just graduated from Community College with a Creative Writing degree, was about to move in with my boyfriend at the time, and was eager to begin my journey as a Knight. I found a passion for science during my environmental science class at Community College, so I came in as a Biology student. During those three months, I was the most stressed I have ever been in my life. I felt lost, defeated, and concerned for the future. That is, until I sat down with Dr. Lauren Howard to discuss working in his dendrochronology lab. He told me about himself and what he does in the lab, and then he asked me, “What do you do, what’s your story?”
What is my story? At the time I had no idea. I was flustered by this question. I ended up telling him my background at Community College, the success I found there, and why I changed my major upon transferring. By the end of my long-winded story, I admitted that I wasn’t happy as a Biology major and would love to do something along the lines of environmental journalism. To that, Dr. Howard replied, “That sounds like a great idea for an individualized major.” Those 10 words were the catalyst for my academic career. I suddenly found purpose in my education again.
Once I figured out the course I wanted to take, I went through the process of getting my major approved. I finally began to feel like myself again. I was starting to find my place in this school I loved so much, but had felt so lost in. Making friends was difficult, my relationship was failing, and it felt like I was on the cusp of a big change.
Once my major was approved and finalized, I dove into the Arcadia community. Although my major was niche, I found solace in my classmates from both the Biology and Media and Communication departments. I saw what I was needing all along, and didn’t let anything get in the way of finding success. I let go of my relationship, despite the fact that we still had six months on our lease. I got involved with Knight Club and developed a small group of friends. I was about to travel to Galway, Ireland for Preview in the fall. Things were looking up.
Then the pandemic hit, and everything came crashing to a halt.
I think it’s safe to say that no one was expecting the pandemic to be as monumental as it was. It threw a wrench in all of my big plans, yet I didn’t really feel upset by it. I realized a lot of those plans were made to avoid the feelings I needed to face, something the pandemic forced me to do. Suddenly I was back in my childhood bedroom, living with my parents again, and facing some difficult truths I hadn’t been ready to confront. But I did, and it reshaped my perspective of myself, my needs, and most importantly: what I want from my life.
I spent most of quarantine reminding myself to enjoy the little moments. I found joy in books, sunsets, baking, and connecting with people in new ways. I reconnected with friends I hadn’t heard from in years, and I was reminded that even though the last year had been challenging, I was still successful. In fact, I am an entirely different person now than when I transferred to Arcadia only a year earlier.
I found my true self despite years of suppressing feelings I wasn’t ready to feel. I was finally out and proud as a queer, non-binary person. Arcadia welcomed me with open arms, something I needed desperately at the time. I came out of lockdown a better person than I ever could have imagined. I recently found out I earned a place on the Dean’s List for both Spring 2020 and Fall 2020. I was surprised, but mostly proud, that despite facing challenges both personally and academically, I was still able to achieve good grades.
Now I am here, in my final semester, happening a whole semester earlier than I planned, and feeling at peace with all I have accomplished. My Arcadia journey didn’t go according to plan, but none of the best things in life do. I have made lifelong friends, discovered myself, found success in my passions, and am feeling equipped to utilize them post-graduation.
My plan for now is to stay at Arcadia with the University's Marketing and Communications office. I’ll get the opportunity to advocate for the school I love so dearly, while getting to utilize my creativity in new and exciting ways. I am planning to continue working in the dendrochronology lab over the summer to strengthen my lab skills. I don’t know what the future holds, but I know that no matter what, Arcadia has my back. Part of this place will always be with me.
Thank you to each and every one of you who have been there for me along the way. While I’m not going far after graduation, I can’t wait to come back and visit years from now, knowing that I went “where the love is,” and that this is the place where I found my home.