April 23, 2004
College life challenges dispositionCollege teaches a person a lot. For the first time in many of our lives, our true moral character is challenged. The person you were, coming from your parent's house to Susquehanna for the first time, is most certainly not the person you have turned into when you drive down University Avenue with your car packed to the brim with four years of memories.
You meet a lot of people at school and in life. Some you'll forget. Some you'll remember forever. Some you'll remember but wish you'd forget. Some you'll forget when you probably should remember.
I wish this was easier to write, to talk about, trying to get to the point of everything in the transition from adolescence to adulthood with a few quick keystrokes, but it isn't. I can't tell you how many people have helped me here and I'm grateful for everything this university offered me.
What it really comes down to, what you need at this or any other school is friends. I've been blessed to have more friends than I realized at this school, and that is another piece of advice I have to offer: even in your darkest hour, someone is there watching you and willing to help you through.
During my first semester at Susquehanna, something happened that changed the way I look at things. My cousin, "Peter," committed suicide at age 16.
I came to Susquehanna with no more than a tour of the school as my knowledge of it. Only one other person, Caitlin McCloskey '03, from Spencerport High School in New York, went to Susquehanna and we'd never met in high school. A little more than four weeks after I'd left for college, I was going to have to deal with a grieving process on my own, or so I thought.
I remember that night my mom told me, so clearly. I remember I had lent one of my future fraternity brothers my sweatshirt a few days before and he brought it back that night. I don't know why, but I told Josh Martin '01 about the suicide and he walked with me to St. Pius X to see if I could get a mass card. It was a dreary walk and I think the only thing that really got me to the church was Josh.
In the years since, I've told the story to all my brothers and told them Josh was the reason I joined Sigma Phi Epsilon. I am very appreciative of that walk, but he wasn't the only person to reach out to me with helping hands.
I had called Caitlin earlier in the evening, because she was the only person on campus I actually knew before I came to Susquehanna, having met her in the summer, and she called me back that night.
We sat in the gazebo by the campus center for hours just talking.
A couple faculty members reached out in the days after, specifically Rev. Joe Celia at St. Pius and Lisa Baer, former associate director of residence life. Though both have left Selinsgrove now, I am still very deeply appreciative of their kind words.
I already mentioned people that you should remember but might not. I mention that because I, too, am guilty of it.
A few days after I found out, I found a card in my mailbox. I opened the card, from current senior Kristen Brown, who lived below me in Smith Hall, and it was a card saying how sorry she was about my cousin.
It's been so long, I don't remember how she found out about it, because I didn't want many people to know about it. I never told her thank you for the card and I'd like to make amends for that now.
The years will strip you of memories of good deeds done and bad things, too. That's part of life. I have one last piece of advice for all of you, though, before I leave Susquehanna.
If you are lucky enough to benefit from a good deed done, show gratitude, mean it and return it. You will be better for it. I promise you that.
And to Josh, Caitlin and of course, to graduating Kristen, I must once again thank you for your kindness in a troubled time.
To the rest of Susquehanna, I thank you for four years of learning, about life and most importantly, about myself.
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