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My Time at Aquinas

This Saturday, my time as a student at Aquinas College will come to a close. I wish I could adequately express all the emotions I feel about this reality: happiness, relief, sadness, nostalgia, but most of all—gratitude. No matter the the amount of homework I have received or the levels of stress I have experienced, at the end of every day I am reminded that choosing to attend Aquinas College was the best decision I have ever made. What’s a better way to honor my last blog post than to talk about this? I couldn’t think of any better way. Here is a reflection of my time at Aquinas College and the many things that have happened to me here. Some things are great, other things are ugly, but in the end it makes me super grateful to have been led to Aquinas College and to call myself an AQ Saint.

For a long time, I had no intentions of attending Aquinas College. I had been on the campus a number of times for field trips and for my aunt’s music recitals, and every time I went I remember thinking the same things: I don’t like it here…it’s too boring…it’s too small…it’s too close to home. My thoughts were no different in Fall of 2010 when I came to Aquinas for a college fair, where it seems like I grabbed information from every table except Aquinas’. Little did I know I was standing on the grounds of my future alma mater.

As my junior year of high school progressed, my Dad started to press me about looking into Aquinas. For awhile, I was too stubborn to listen to him. I thought I had everything figured out and I thought I knew exactly where I wanted to go. Soon, however, I learned how quickly I can change my mind. In early 2011, I received something in the mail from Aquinas about a Leadership AQDay—a day of events for learning about leadership and how to hone your leadership skills. My Dad thought it’d be great for me to learn about leadership and get a day off from school. I figured, why not? So I signed up. Soon enough, I would find out one major detail my Dad didn’t tell me about this Leadership AQDay: that there was a tour of campus involved. As a student ambassador, this is a story I tell to prospective students all the time now—about how my Dad tricked me into touring Aquinas, about how I fell in love with Aquinas’ beautiful campus, and how I ultimately decided to attend school here. Aquinas simply clicked with me—whether it was the friendly people, the beautiful campus, the great academic programs, the scholarship money, or some combination of these things—I don’t know. All I did know was one thing, and that was I knew I was going to be taken care of here.

Fast forward to August 2012, and I was now a student at Aquinas College. I learned quickly during my first day of orientation that the community I felt during my tour hadn’t gone away; in fact, it only felt stronger. I quickly bonded with my roommate and suitemates, my orientation leaders, other people in my orientation group, and other fellow first years. During these three days, I was amazed at how everyone took the time to get to know each other and help each other out. In these three days, I was again reminded: I was going to be taken care of here.

Fast forward even further, with many hours of class, homework, hanging out The Moose, working at Admissions, the Library, and the Phone Center, volunteering at Campus Ministry, going on service learning trips, planning Code Blue for Autism, going to Mass at Bukowski Chapel, going on runs in East Grand Rapids, working out at Sturrus, studying abroad in Ireland, and spending time with the greatest of friends, and I’m here! I’m graduating. In some ways, all of this has come too fast; in other ways, it has taken forever. Either way, it is still bittersweet. As I prepare to receive my diploma this weekend, I can’t help but feel nostalgic, emotional, and grateful—not only for all the great things that have happened to me here (there are so many), but also for all the struggles I’ve experienced. Why am I nostalgic, emotional, and grateful for all the struggles, you ask?  At Aquinas, it doesn’t matter if you got the job/internship of your dreams, if you’re on the verge of tears studying for a test, if you just passed a difficult class, if you’re struggling to find your career path, if you’re going through a personal struggle, if you’re celebrating a birthday or if you’re simply looking for a place to make great memories and even greater friends. No matter what, there is a community here to support you and help you grow, for you to lean on in hard times, and to celebrate with you in all the good times. At Aquinas, you’re always taken care of.

Through all the triumphs, struggles, and changes, one thing has always remained constant for me during my time at Aquinas: I have always been taken care of here. Here at Aquinas, community goes a long way. I believe it is the community here that has made me a happier person and better student. But most of all, I believe the community here has given me a better education. To me, that has been the ultimate value of my Aquinas experience. I toured Aquinas by accident, but I can honestly say it was the best accident that has ever happened to me.  Although I am excited to graduate this weekend, saying I am going to miss this place would be an understatement. I love this school, I love this community, and I am so proud to call myself an AQ Saint. My years at Aquinas will live in my heart forever.

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