Christy Nolan—I first became a student at Brockport in the fall of 2013, and in 2 short weeks I will be graduating. The thought of it is surreal.
For four years, this community has become a second home. It has molded me into the person that my hometown could not. I can’t help now, during the final stretch, but feel somewhat (perhaps prematurely) nostalgic and reflect on who I was when I arrived and who I am as I exit.
I often think back to my first tour of Brockport during high school. I was in a terrible mood because my Dad knew as we exited the car that Brockport was the perfect fit, and therefore spent the rest of the time on campus actively trying to embarrass me (as fathers often do).
Our tour brought us to a dance class in Hartwell Hall, where my father told the tour guide I was an aspiring Dance professional (even though my major was going to be Communication). The tour guide brought us to a class with a professor he grew to love, and the professor of that class welcomed me into the room and asked a few questions about my influences and inspirations regarding dance. I had to (no pun intended) wing it and it quickly became very obvious that I was not going to be very successful in the industry.
Later in the day, my father brought me to Jimmy Z’s, which was crawling with potential peers and friends. This meant that I obviously did not want him to make our presence known. But he did, as he yelled at the soccer game on the TV screen along with THE Jimmy Z himself and inquired about a job for me once I was a student.
My Dad’s tactics, however, did not skew the tour for me. I fell in love with the campus, the professors, and the atmosphere so much that I accepted the invitation to become a Golden Eagle once I got home.
Moments like this remind me how different everything seemed those four years ago. I was excited and nervous every time I thought about Brockport, a place that now provides so much comfort and ease. I would often think, “what if I don’t make friends?” and, “what if I don’t belong?”. But I think, in a way, anyone can make friends or belong in a place like Brockport. Although many say you’re able to “reinvent” yourself in college, I was able to instead embrace who I am at Brockport without fear of ridicule or judgment. I could be as nerdy, as preppy, as loud or as quiet as I wanted and still felt like I belonged.
THAT is the magic of The College at Brockport.
The school accepts people from all walks of life. I thought I knew who I was when I moved into Benedict Hall on that first rainy August afternoon, but I was wrong. It was here that I found my voice, my confidence, and learned to value my own insight. It was here that I learned to embrace diversity in a way that my parents’ perspective never could have taught me. I uncovered my potential at Brockport, and give credit to all of the wonderful professors and mentors who made the effort to get to know my name and my story, but also pushed me to continue to improve.
It was at Brockport that I learned the meaning of hard work by not only writing papers in the late hours of the night and slaving away at the dining hall on homecoming weekend, but in keeping meaningful relationships as my friends began to find themselves, too.
It was at Brockport that I had learned how to overcome and enjoy life despite obstacles like financial burden, stressful allergies, and mental illness. I learned what it meant to be a friend, how it feels to be understood by people that at first glance I never could have imagined being understood by, and that the quietest people sometimes have the most to share. Yet I also learned that sometimes it’s best not to take yourself so seriously and that we all, at some point, deserve a break.
Most importantly, it was at Brockport that I uncovered an overwhelming joy in learning and expanding the limits of my own mind. I found a remarkable confidence in sharing my research and writing, learned to value criticism and feedback, and looked forward to classes full of open minded insight, dialogue, laughter and depth.
At a college like Brockport, you learn more than numbers and literature; you learn how to put clarity to all the ideas scrambled around in your mind. You learn the value of a conversation and the need for change in this world, but you also learn how a single individual can make that change, and that that individual can be you.
I am a better person because of all that Brockport has done for me. I am a better daughter, sister, citizen, peer, and friend because of the people I have met and the experiences that I have had. It is with a heavy heart and incredible memories grasped tight that I prepare to end this chapter of my life; but I know that no matter where I go from here, the lessons learned in Brockport, New York, will continually guide, support and provide me with the tools that I need to thrive.
So thank you, Brockport. I will never forget you.
Until we meet again,