Senior staff writer
Well, here we are: Fast approaching the end of yet another semester, but this time things seem a bit different. I am looking at this semester from a different perspective: A nostalgic, reflective point of view – that of a graduating senior.
I was always expected to go to college but after some fairly tumultuous high school years, I decided to wait a year. Or 15. I think that I was really waiting for the right school. I found that school in Florida Gulf Coast University.
As a 30-something mother of two, coming back to school was more than an experience. It at first felt like I didn’t belong. The math was unfamiliar, the lingo a hodgepodge of text-speak and movie dialogue. I mean, when did we start having phone conversations on speaker in the bathroom? But I chugged along.
Through the various programs FGCU offers for first-time college students I found some support, and although I rarely had time to visit the offices, I knew they were there. The professors I had were also very helpful – even those that were younger than me. I also found a student population that I could connect with. Above all else, the people that work and attend this school have made the experience positive. But, there are the other things that add to the experience.
The campus is always moving. There are events on the library lawn. Some are scheduled, and some are spontaneous. I once sat and watched two guys try and do some type of martial art that I could only guess they learned from YouTube, based on the number of expletives I heard as one hit the ground after the other. I have seen many carnival-style fun and games during Greek weeks and other special times. I walked a bit slower when T-shirts explaining domestic violence hung from a clothes line stretched between pylons. I stood in disgust at such atrocities, as well as that crazy man Brother Micah.
I have come to love this school, even when I do not agree with some of its policies and mandatory classes. I still do not like the visual and performing arts class I was forced to take, although I did enjoy sitting in the on-campus art gallery looking just to look. I did not like taking Colloquium, but I did enjoy the kayak trip and all of the wonderful pictures I had the opportunity to take. I did not like statistics.
Throughout these four years I have seen the campus change and grow and the pains that come from that growth. I have seen roads paved with good intentions cost more than it should have (that’s directed at you, Student Governments of the past). I have also been witness to the many selfless acts of volunteerism and service. The philanthropic endeavors of individuals and various organizations have solidified FGCU’s reputation in the community as a school that gives back.
And then, in the spring of my senior year I saw FGCU change to the stuff that legends are made of. Through the hard work and dedication of a men’s basketball team that saw very little of the rest of us during the regular season, we were on the map. FGCU was renamed Dunk City, and for a moment that seemed like it might last forever, we were the center of attention. Pride swelled to levels not seen in FGCU’s brief history, but I felt a bit of shame that it took such success to get my attention. Not again.
So, I have submitted my last assignment in the College of Education. Sent out the announcements and ordered my cap and gown. On May 4 I will have the distinct pleasure to gather with my family, friends and fellow Eagles and walk across the stage. I will move from student to alumnus, and I will probably cry. While I skipped things likened to the normal college experience, it is an experience I have had nonetheless, and FGCU will forever hold a place dear to my heart.
But, if asked about the one thing I will miss most, I will have to say spending this time most weeks writing to you. Each opinion was shared out of love and concern. My motherly instinct shone through each paragraph, trying to reach you to start a conversation. I would like to thank you for giving me this opportunity to be a part of something larger than myself, even if just for a moment. I would like to show my appreciation for you giving me your time when you read my words and letting me be a part of your experience. Best of luck in your endeavors. Congratulations class of 2013.
Mandie is a senior majoring in secondary social science education. She is married with two children and is active in the suicide prevention field.