" I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word in reality."
-Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
Reality was my key theme to this past year. I feel that for so long I was living happily in ignorance. Ignorant of social problems, not only prevalent in our world but in my own backyard. Ignorant that there is much more than expected underneath the surface of all people. Ignorant of the real person inside of me wanting to be exposed for so long. But there is just something about the SJU community that pushes you into the "Real World". This is why I have decided to make my last 8 observations of my freshmen year, the 8 real people who have contributed to my real life changing experience.
Koininia is a seemingly funny word that I can barely pronounce, but the meaning behind the word for me means the world to me. They are my second family. Week after week this group of people continually inspire me to become a better person. Without them, my transformation over the past year would not be possible. I initially joined this youth group on a whim, but it was the best decision I have made this past year, besides coming to Saint Joseph's University of course.
Gabe: At first glance Gabe may seem like a smooth, Spanish guy sporting an intimidating leather jacket, but in reality he is an incredibly devoted Catholic who has pushed me to challenge my own faith.
Kate: Her inner goodness has allowed me to realize that it is possible to rise above personal obstacles. She has the absolute best sense of humor, which can only be followed by a memorable laugh.
Josh: Josh initially comes across as a laid back soccer player, but in reality he is the symbol of a family man. He has showed me what it truly means to put family first.
Katie: She has taught me that you can never care enough, as she continually puts her friends and family above herself.
Tony: Even though he is a man of very few words, Tony has proved that actions speak louder than words. He is the absolute nicest guy who would honestly do anything for anyone. He has redefined the phrase of a "nice guy".
Maryclaire: She has taught me that it is perfectly okay to rely on the strength of others, especially when you are unable to keep yourself up. In fact, it is in such times that family members are able to put you back on your own feet. This has definitely been proven through my second family.
Jack: He is probably one of the most knowledgeable people that I have had the pleasure of getting to know. No matter how intimidating a subject, he pushes you to question your own beliefs. Plus, his sense of humor makes people laugh til they pee themselves. Trust me from personal experience.
Megan: She has a beautiful soul that instantly makes people feel at ease. I would not have been able to get through my freshmen year without the encouragement and good advice that she has provided me.
Jess: I'll get to her later....
2. The Roommates
Kelly- Finding out that my roommate was a preppy girl who came from an all girls Catholic school, I could not help but imagine her personality. Much to my surprise, I was more than glad to find out that she is a driven person who is passionate about helping the world. From falling asleep to conversations about abortion to venting about the injustices of students wasting food, Kelly and I were able to bond over controversial issues.
Caroline- As my own mother lovingly nick-named her "the eavesdropper", Caroline has proven to always be there when I need her. Not only does her witty sense of humor help to lighten up any situation, but she has pushed me to enjoy the simple things in life.
Kelly #2- Even though I was initially intimidated by her heavy Brooklyn accent, I have learned that Kelly is the ultimate sweet-heart. She is the fun-loving friend that I always looked forward to coming home to. Her laugh is contagious and has the precious ability to always put me in a good mood.
3. The New Gay Bestfriend
Ray- Coming into college, I only had gay guy friends. I made it a priority to find some straight friends, but it just ended up that Ray was just in the right place at the right time. He looked and sounded just like Damian from Mean Girls, my heart melted. From that point forward, Ray taught me to love the person I am. Our bond was only strengthened once we traveled to West Virginia to build houses over spring break. It was then that I was able to fully appreciate Ray for allowing me to be myself.
4. The Girl I Initially Thought Hated Me
Rosie- I remember my first day moving into Hawk Hill. Within the first five minutes of unloading my things, Rosie was awaiting in my room along with five other girls. I would like to think that it was my nerves but I made a complete fool of myself and basically revealed that I had a sweating condition. Only another example of my word vomit. From that point forward, I thought Rosie thought I was incredibly weird. But by the end of my second semester, I can now say that Rosie has become a close friend. She has taught me the true meaning of being a hard worker. Under an unbelievable amount of stress, Rosie still manages to smile and hug everyone she sees. She has showed me to never let stress get in the way of relationships that only better your life.
5. A Second Mom
Darlene- Coming into college, I would have never imagined that I would make such strong connections to the Admissions Office. Honestly, after my tour at SJU I never thought I would go have to go back into that building. But it was through a work study job that I gained a new found appreciation for Bronstein Hall. Darlene is the secretary of Admissions and let's just say that she is the ultimate rocker mom in a mini van who just so happens to love everything Disney. Not only does she own the strips of pink through her hair and wild orange nails, but she is the absolute sweetest lady. She has guided me along my freshman year with the best advice only a mom could give. Plus the homemade treats she brought into the office always brightened any stressful day. She has taught me to not be afraid to put your heart into your work.
6. Orientation Roommate Turned Sister
Nicole- After meeting her at orientation, I was instantly struck by the fact that she was painfully quiet. This proved to be the furthest thing from the truth after I learned we were going to be housemates. Our relationship is that of sisters. I turn to her for honest advice and homework help and in return we jokingly bicker and beat each other up. She has proved to be one of the strongest people I have ever met, as she has won her own battle with leukemia. I never let cancer define our relationship. In fact, I would like to think that our relationship has helped normalize my relationship with my mom who has melanoma.
7. The Girl I Always Wanted As A Bestfriend
Jess- When Jess walks into a room, her presence is known. She is the girl with the nose ring who is confident in herself and not afraid of what people think of her. She never lets her looks get to her and instead focuses on being a strong, smart, independent woman. Needless to say, the first time I met her, I instantly wanted to be her friend. She has become my person. I can do absolutely anything with her and still have a good time. She lifts me up when I am down, dances with me awkwardly through campus, laughs at my weird jokes, and pushes me to be the best version of me. Through this past year, I have learned that my initial impression of her was true, in fact she has proven to be the best friend a girl could ever want.
Brenda - I feel that it is only right to end on my learner Brenda. Through the past couple of months of tutoring her at the Center for Literacy, I have found her to be an absolutely inspirational woman. Against all odds, Brenda has lived a genuinely happy life. I would like to think this was possible because of her fun-loving and hard-working personality. She was able to push herself at the CFL to improve her writing, reading, and math skills. She was even able to use the computer by the end of our sessions. If this is what was possible after 4 months, I can not even begin to imagine what she could do in a year's time. She has taught me to not only value the important things in my life, but to share these things with others. Friendship. Education. Laughter. And a little Hershey Kiss doesn't hurt either. She has given me just about everything she has to offer. In return, I hope that I was able to do the same. I completed a painting for Brenda to show her my appreciation of all of her hard work. It featured a quote that I could easily apply to my first year at SJU: "The fact that I can plant a seed and it becomes a flower, share a bit of knowledge and it becomes another's, smile at someone and receive a smile in return, are the beauties in the world."
As cheesy as it may sound, my dreams have became my reality here at Saint Joseph's University. With the help of truly inspirational people, I have become the person I always to be this past year.