I've always hated it when people say, "Our lives are just beginning," because at this point, my life has been well underway for the past 22 years.
But trust me, right now I can share in their excitement.
I came to UB in 2006 as a freshman who thought that I could do the bare minimum like I did in high school, and coast my way to graduation.
I was in for a rude awakening.
Roadblocks, detours, and one fat "R" on my transcript during my first semester here taught me that way more effort than I was used to would be needed. So then I tried – and that was all it took.
A story I recently covered about two UB professors who were rated by their students among the top in the nation on RateMyProfessors.com put me into contact with a man named Rob Busch. He is a lecturer in the Department of Mathematics and while I interviewed him, he ended up teaching me more about myself.
"Perhaps people show up to a university a bit unsure about [themselves] – but perhaps through some hard work and self-discipline, then they experience this thing we call success," he said. "I can use words like satisfying, exciting – all that stuff – to be present when a young man or woman begins to experience [it] for the first time. You can actually see confidence being conceived. The person that they intended to be begins to emerge."
Busch recently ran into a former student in the Atlanta airport, and this particular young woman that he had encountered as a freshman is in a prestigious graduate program today.
"She was bubbling as she discussed her plans – she was electric," he said. "You wonder how this job could be addictive as you watch young people's lives begin to launch – it's an incredible feeling."
I can honestly say that right now, I feel like that girl. I'm so excited about what's to come and the opportunities that I have been given.
Of course, it took me forever to get here – so to those who are feeling unsure of themselves, I promise you your turn will come to experience "this thing we call success."
I was lucky enough to have teachers like Busch to give me that extra boost of confidence in order to succeed. Professor Feeley was not only my favorite teacher at UB, he was also the most encouraging. He let me know when I did well, and gave me more opportunities than I ever deserved.
Jody Biehl helped me grow by challenging me and prompting me to question my way to becoming a better writer. You know a class is good when you leave it feeling like you not only grew academically, but as a person, as well.
I was also fortunate enough to work with Dr. Williams, Dr. Cassata and all of my mentors in the Communication Department. They have undoubtedly prepared me for what's ahead and honored me in ways that I will always be grateful for.
Mom, Dad, Marissa, Joey, Meagan, Andrea, and my three-in-one: you were the ones who got me through all this insanity. Thank you for listening and for caring and for always being there. I love you.
Life desk: I came late in the game when friendships had already been cemented and was unsure of how I would fit in. But you not only accepted me, you embraced me as your "little nugget," and although we started this semester as strangers, I'm so grateful to leave as friends.
Finally, to UB and my hometown of Buffalo, N.Y: I admit that after particularly rough days, I couldn't wait to leave you behind. But I will wholeheartedly miss you. Thank you for making me into the person I've become.