I didn’t want to go there. When I was a senior at Grand Rapids Christian High School, this was my initial response when someone asked me where I planned to go to college.
I didn’t want to be like so many of my classmates who had chosen to attend the liberal arts school just a few miles (or in my case, 1.4, to be precise) away from their home.
But those kids were on to something—Calvin was a community unlike any other, and there was a reason so many of my classmates wanted to be a part of it—and so did I.
So I went.
I packed my bags and made the mile long trek down Burton street, said a frazzled goodbye to my parents on Commons Lawn, and started my career as a college student.
During these four years, I made more memories than I could ever capture in photographs; some that escaped my memory, and some that have been added to the stack of images stored in my overflowing mental scrapbook.
I struggled through orientation as overly enthusiastic orientation leaders bounced beach balls at us and encouraged us to do the “wobble” on stage, and craved the solace of my dorm room.
I was pulled out of my shell by an extroverted roommate (shout out to the potluck system) who helped me turn a corner through encouraging me to become a part of the Calvin community when I was dangerously close to thinking I was “too cool” to participate.
I bonded with floormates, strutting down the halls in toilet paper wedding dresses, blasting Macklemore’s “Thrift Shop” on repeat until we were almost sick of it–almost.
I befriended upperclassmen who treated me like a younger sister, and inspired me to be as good of a person as I believed them to be.
I befriended underclassmen who treated me like an older sister and motivated me to be as good of a person they always believed me to be.
I sat on creaky basement couches with friends while we watched an unholy amount of Jimmy Fallon episodes, laughing until our abs ached.
I did the worm with housemates to celebrate an unexpected snow day, continuing the festivities with cinnamon rolls and board games, just like the good old days.
I ran from the skunks which plagued my college neighborhood and stalked me on a 2 AM stroll back to my duplex.
Calvin was a place for last kisses and first kisses–a place where I learned about the pain of a heartbreak, the excitement of butterflies, the frustration of miscommunication, the rush of a crush, the security of love, and everything in-between.
I shared positive and painful moments with friends. During breakups, we held each other in tight, teary hugs, sat on the floor in silence, or (my personal favorite) cut their pictures out of all their formerly framed couple photos, and taped them to various posters across the floor (Barbie* in a Gondola, Barbie with the cast of Friends, Barbie chilling with One Direction).
These friends and I surprised each other with kind cards for no reason. We celebrated each others’ 21st birthdays with $5 wine bottles from Aldi. We huddled in each others’ rooms and Facebook stalked the Upperclassmen’s engagement photos (diamonds are passed out like parade candy here, people).
I had friend crushes on classmates who went from being strangers who shared classes with me to friends who shared coffee dates and google docs and study sessions with me (Strat. Comm. Fam, y’all are the real MVPs).
We struggled through exams and celebrated with Spoonlickers. We gave each other thumbs up during speeches and exchanged “LOL what even was that final SOS” texts. We went from knowing our classmates’ names to promoting their student government campaigns on social media and attending their basketball games and Dance Guild performances.
I had internships which shaped my work ethic and introduced me to people who I can’t ever imagine my life without (to all current Calvin Communication students, I highly recommend the WOOD TV 8 summer internship…and I highly recommend the sports anchor interns 😉 )
I had a variety of classes that pushed me to the point of tears (I’M LOOKING AT YOU, STATISTICS), and pointed me to my passions (shout out to you, Interpersonal Communication!), but all of which made me a better, stronger, more capable and well-rounded person.
Calvin was an absolute blessing, and a gift that will keep on giving. I am leaving with a pocketful of experiences, memories, life-lessons, and a community that will impact me for the rest of my life.
On a Saturday afternoon, I stood on the sunny lawn where my family first left me as a freshman, but instead of saying two goodbyes (one to each of my parents) and uttering a flurry of hellos, I stood holding a Calvin diploma, saying hundreds of goodbyes.
I started and ended my Calvin education on that lawn, and though I started hesitant to claim the #Knight4Life title so many were so quick to declare, I left so proud and at peace to call myself a #Knight4Life, and so blessed to know that wherever I roam, I will always be connected to such a transformative, dynamic, supportive community.
Thank you Calvin.