I transferred over to your campus after receiving my Associate’s Degree in Graphic Arts from my local community college, MVCC (Mohawk Valley Community College). You were an unexpected path in my journey but I couldn’t be more grateful to you. At the time of my first tour I was at an all time low of my life, my pride was diminished. But as soon as I stepped onto your campus grounds I knew this was it. UAlbany, or the University at Albany.
I was a small town girl who only experienced the growth that a local community college could give to hand, but you taught me so much more. Your corridors were filled with students from around the world! Intimidating at first, but so worth the risk. I had taken a semester off school and finished working as a hostess at Olive Garden. I had gone from graduating with honors to feeling like a small speck of dust but you lifted me right back up!
The first gift you gave me was homesickness, and while this might sound contradictory, it really did help me in the long run. You helped me realize how important home actually was to me and how beautiful of a community I was raised in. I now look at Utica in a different light. It’s where I can make opportunities, no matter how small our city is. It’s where I want to progress and grow more with the knowledge you gave me. Homesickness also helped me grow up. My first time living away from home and cooking my own meals. It was a lot to handle but it was needed. I was nearly 20 years old after all.
The second gift you gave me is knowledge. Small towns build small minds and as open-minded, as I thought I might have been, I really had no idea. By meeting people from around the world I learned lessons I would not have learned anywhere else. I learned how to talk to people who were different than me and had different opinions. And most of all I learned how to stand up for myself and take my seat when deserved.
The third gift you gave me was experience. I thought I had a lot already, but I was not prepared for what you gave me. I feel like an adult woman now. I can handle my own problems and accept the fact that it’s okay for me to struggle sometimes. I’ve taken things easier than I ever have before. When I used to be high-strung, I am now the calmest person you will ever come across, as if I have no worries in the world.
The fourth gift you gave me was friendship. I didn’t date much and I never had a significant other here but man, did you give me a plethora of friends! Never in my life had I ever had more kind, genuine, compassionate, mature, and honest friends! Most of my friends I have known since high school from never leaving that tiny town. Never did I know that these incredible people whom I am so lucky to call my friends today have ever existed. These friends taught me how to love myself like no one had ever done before and I couldn’t be more grateful.
And now… here we are…
It’s the end of the semester. I have two days left to pack and say goodbye to you and the gifts you gave me. I am done with college after this. I will not have to earn any more degrees or experience college in the way I did before. The late night studying and chugging coffee for my next exam are done. The relentless research papers are done. The fire alarms at 1 in the morning are done. It’s all done. Now, I face the real world with even more freedom and 10 times more responsibility. I am happy to be going back home and sharing my new found knowledge with my friends and family there. I cannot wait to start new projects. And still, I am sad to be leaving this now past time. As much as I may have hated various moments and cried at certain times… it’s done a lot for me. And now, it will only be a memory. These people will soon be memories. I won’t forget it.
Thank you, University. Thank you.