Looking Back: My Last and Favorite Semester of College
If someone had told me that I would make the most new friends and have some of my most unique experiences during my very last semester of college, I probably would have laughed. That isn’t how it’s supposed to work, right? Wrong.
It took me until the beginning of the Spring 2012 semester to join Onward State, also known as the second semester of my senior year. One of my closest friends, who had been writing for OS for a while, had tried to convince me to join for about 6 months before I actually went for it, and I still owe everything I got out of this experience to him.
I never could have imagined a group of people so amazing as the Onward State staff. After being a member for only about 20 minutes, I already felt like I was a part of the “family.” Over the next few weeks, I ended up making some of my closest friends; people who I know will be a part of my life forever. In case I needed affirmation of this sentiment, I found it during THON weekend. Though I wasn’t dancing for Onward State, I truly felt all of the love that they had for each other and for me. Between bawling my eyes out to Dip, meeting and subsequently confessing my apparently undying love for my favorite OS editor to Kevin Horne, getting piggyback rides from Tyler Hoy, and waving up at press row at least once an hour, I found a group of people that made me wonder “where have they been all my life?!”
After that, I got to spend some of my favorite days and nights of college with them. Monday night meetings, exploring every downtown bar with Mel and Shawn (and some crazy Romanian), pretending I know how to play fantasy baseball with all of the guys, spending a glorious evening at Café 210 for #OS210, interviewing the Nittany Lion, spotlighting Shane McGregor’s famous blonde hair — I could go on forever. I really do have the wonderful people of Onward State to thank for all of these awesome experiences and memories.
All of that said, what’s the moral of the story? Things don’t always work the way they’re supposed to. In fact, they rarely ever do. Maybe you aren’t supposed to find your lifelong friends and have so many of your favorite experiences of college at the very end, but if it does happen, embrace it. I’m not going to write a novel here, but just take my word for it that this also applies to almost everything else in my life. I changed my major/minor combination about fifteen times, I did things I never thought I’d do (who lives in France for two out of three summers of college?), I took a risk and followed my passion instead of listening to everything people told me I was “supposed” to be doing, and now I have an opportunity to have my dream job in San Francisco.
So, what’s my biggest piece of advice out of all of this? Live the life you love. Cliché as it is, follow your passions, take risks, be confident in yourself, and embrace every moment, whether you expected it or not. I might have only learned these things this semester, but I wouldn’t change one thing about it. No matter where I end up after I leave the happiest valley in the world, I know that I will always smile looking back on the memories I made and the people I met at Onward State this semester. I love you guys!
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About the Author
Garcia is the first known Penn State student to die after contracting the virus.
“We will no longer sit back and watch as the university continues to disrespect and misuse its BIPOC students.”
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