Thanks you, Behrend!
Julia Guerrein, Editor-in-Chief
This past week, I was talking to my academic advisor, research advisor and professor. He commented on how different I am now than when I was when I first came to Behrend, reminiscing on how I signed up for approximately 24 credits my second semester despite his warnings (I ended up having to late drop a class). I learned from that, I told him.
As graduation comes closer and closer, I have been reflecting on my four years at Behrend and how much I have grown. The person I was when I began as a freshman was still reeling from an abusive relationship, was no longer speaking to many of her closest friends from high school, generally had no idea how to do well in a college class, and did not know where she belonged, having felt like she didn’t fit in through all of her school years. My friend group freshman year was mostly boys from band, but I was worried I would have no friends once those friends graduated or moved to University Park. I can safely say now that I was very wrong. I have many amazing friends, most of which were not even at Behrend my freshman year, and I do not talk to most of the people from freshman year at all.
Behrend has molded me into a person I am proud to be, someone who is more confident than I ever thought I could be. I traveled to foreign countries, learned how to be a scientist, challenged myself, and so much more. Instead of being the starry-eyed dreamer I came in as, I am now someone with much more knowledge and expertise under my belt, someone who understands herself in a much more holistic way.
If someone would have told me that I would end up being the editor-in-chief of the newspaper, I would not have believed them. This position has been the most transformative experience of my life so far. I’ve learned to deal with people when they are mad, upset and generally not at their best. I’ve learned when I’ve reached my limit and need to take a step back. I’ve learned how to delegate and trust others (and when not to trust others). I wouldn’t trade the three a.m. layouts, the many arguments and the hundreds (probably thousands) of hours I’ve spent working on the Beacon for the world. I have been able to experience so much because of the Beacon and it has rewarded me with some of the greatest friends and memories I could have ever wished for. It showed me things that I did not even think possible.
In my high school yearbook, my English teacher wrote “Pick people who value you and who make you better.” At the time I thought I understood what that meant, but I really didn’t. I now have a better idea. I’ve learned that I have the choice of who my time goes to. I have a choice whether I invest in certain people and not others. Behrend has gifted me with people who value me and make me better, people who are honest with me and who I can be honest with. People who genuinely mean it when they ask me how I am doing, who take the time to listen to my long-winded answer and who I am excited to hear their long-winded answer in return. People who I know will still have my back even once I’ve walked across the stage in a little over a week and once I live miles and miles away from them. From the deepest part of my heart and soul, thank you to everyone who has loved me and who has allowed me to love them so deeply and fully.
Since high school, people have been telling me I’m going to change and/or save the world. While I am flattered by this, it also terrifies me. I feel this immense weight on my shoulders to do something meaningful, to do something difficult that challenges me and shakes me to my core, something that can maybe change the trajectory of this planet. I only know that when I look at my niece and nephew, I feel I have to do something so I do not fail them and all of the other children of this world. I feel this compulsion to save this planet, but I know I can’t do it alone. I need all of you, regardless of where you came from and where you’re going, to do anything you can to help save this beautiful and confusing world. We have to be hopeful, compassionate, determined, understanding, patient, and so much more. We have to be willing to work together and put aside our differences, our egos, our pride. We have to ask more of ourselves and of each other.
Thank you, to this community. Thank you for giving me a place where I could fail and learn from it. Thank you for giving me so many opportunities to grow and thrive. So goodbye for now, until we meet again.