College changes people. These days, not everyone is comfortable with that idea. And many incoming students just don’t believe it will be the case for them. Some students enter college knowing that they will become doctors, or artists or writers — much in the way that I knew that I wanted to be an athletic director.
But of course, I’m not an athletic director. College changed me.
When I was considering colleges, conversations with friends and family centered on cost, campus size or what career I wanted. My eyes were on the piece of paper that would show I was a college graduate — my ticket into a career that rose above jobs without advancement opportunity.
So as a student, I was initially annoyed that I had to take classes outside of my major. I was annoyed that it was mandatory for me to attend campus events. And I was annoyed (as a commuter) that I couldn’t schedule all of my classes back-to-back.
But that downtime between classes allowed me to dive more deeply into my studies and to talk to professors over coffee. Attending events helped me to connect with classmates. And in the end, liberal arts courses in writing and history impacted me the most. They changed my direction and how I view the world. Ultimately, they changed how I make decisions and how I value my college degree.
So it can be discouraging at times when I read through data showing how students continue to choose colleges and how they decide what to study as incoming students. According to the majority of today’s high school students, college should be a safe environment to prepare for a high-paying career. “Liberal arts” sounds like a political term to them, and being exposed to different ideas doesn’t sound inviting.
But then I talk to new college graduates. I see that faculty and experiences have broadened the way they look at the world and how they think about the future. I see that they are proud to have learned to communicate, to think critically, to work with others and to adapt.
As Jordan Ezell ’19 reflects (see below), “the liberal arts education has taught me to never back down from a challenge and if I can, to learn about other skills than just in my desired profession.”
Like Jordan, I’m gratified that college changed me. How did it change you?
– Carey Manzolillo, MBA
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THE LAST WORD
Senior Reflection by Jordan Ezell ’19
As many times as I’ve been told how fast time flies, I’ve never really believed it until my first day of class during my last semester in college. Four short years ago, I remember stepping into Walton Hall room 101 and wondering what my next four years would look like. I wondered what opportunities I would have, how much I would grow from freshman to senior year and if I’d be ready to take on adulthood after walking across the stage at graduation. Looking back and reflecting on my time on campus, I couldn’t be happier with how my experience turned out.
An excited freshman, I wanted to make the most of my time in college. Before the end of my first semester, I joined the Improv group, became vice president of my class, co-hosted a radio show and joined both the women’s and concert choirs. But this would be only the beginning of my campus involvement. As spring semester came around, so did many other on-campus opportunities. I became an Albright Ambassador, a member of a sorority and a Peer Orientation Person (POP).
One of my favorite aspects about Albright is the Peer Orientation Program, designed to welcome first-year and transfer students to campus. It has had a lasting effect on me as a groupie and as a POP for three years. After my first week of training and after the first weekend as a POP my sophomore year, I knew that this program was special and made me feel like I could be myself in full form. I was in a group of people who have gone through life-changing experiences and I felt safe knowing I was not alone with the personal issues I was going through. I wanted to make my groupies feel the way the POPs program made me feel, and I will be forever grateful that I got to experience that level of love and support in a group of people striving to make things better for the members of their community.
As a senior, I’ve realized that Albright has taught me much more than just public relations and advertising skills. I’ve gone outside of my comfort zone and learned how to stand up for what I believe in, how to make tough choices and have a stronger appreciation of the little things in life. I have been put in situations where I had to do what I thought was best for my class, co-organization members and myself. I struggled with asking for help.
A month and a half before graduation I underwent an intensive surgery for a bone condition called Osteochrondomas. I had my ankle, knee and pelvis operated on, and I underestimated my recovery and my abilities to involve myself on campus. I struggled going up and down steps, but mostly with asking people for help since I pride myself on being an independent person. I had to overcome my fear of asking for help and was positively surprised with the help I received from my professors, classmates, superiors and Albright staff. Going through a serious recovery while finishing up my senior year was difficult. It changed my perception of life and has made me more appreciative for what I have. Four years ago, my decision to attend Albright College was an easy choice, and I have gained memories, experiences, friends and skills that will last a life time.
If I were to give first-year students a piece of advice, I would tell them to make the most of our little campus, and don’t be afraid to do what you think is right. I have loved my time spent on Albright’s campus. The friendships and memories I’ve made with the lessons I’ve learned have given me the confidence to strive for more in life. The liberal arts education has taught me to never back down from a challenge and if I can, to learn about other skills than just in my desired profession. My four years have gone by fast and I cannot wait to proudly call Albright College my Alma mater.
– Jordan Ezell ’19