Letter to the Monitor with Austin Baragary

“Letter to the Monitor” is an opportunity for members of the William Jewell College community to write a free-topic editorial. If you are interested in submitted an editorial for consideration, please contact the Monitor at monitor@william.jewell.edu for more information.

One day over the summer, I stepped out of my office to run over to White Science Center to fill up my water bottle. As I turned a corner, I saw two people I knew very well. One had been my roommate for two years and was my little brother in my fraternity. The other I had known for less time, but I still counted her among my close friends; she had often told me that I was one of the reasons she chose William Jewell. These two were surrounded by incoming first-year students who were on campus for Cardinal Day. I was ecstatic to see these two and started enthusiastically talking to them about their lives and their summers. And they, being polite Midwesterners, introduced me to the first-years surrounding them, all of whom were polite enough but clearly didn’t really care about meeting me. And it was in that moment that I realized that my relationship with William Jewell College had changed.

My relationship up until that moment had been that of a student to this college. I graduated in May of this year with a degree in political communication and a minor in nonprofit leadership. I was incredibly involved with several campus organizations. I was certainly not the perfect student, but I was one of those Type A, over-scheduled kids who somehow have time for everything. And now I’m fortunate enough to work for the Harriman-Jewell Series as Development and Finance Manager. This allows me to work in the performing arts, a career path I’d been interested in for a few years ever since I started attending Harriman-Jewell Series performances as a student. In a lot of ways, I’m incredibly fortunate – not only do I have a job in my chosen career path, but I was able to make that transition while staying in a community that I knew and loved.

But, I knew that this transition could be fraught with challenges. A good friend of mine graduated in 2013 and spent last academic year transitioning from student to staff. I had witnessed all of her ups and downs and fully expected to experience some of the same emotions she had. And while I have had my ups and downs, it’s actually been a much smoother transition than I anticipated.

Going from student to staff meant a change in my identity. No longer was I that over scheduled student leader; I was a staff member. There were no clubs for me to join, no events to organize and no more Cardinal Points (honestly, that was probably the hardest part of my transition). But, instead of that sudden identity change sparking a crisis, it was exactly what I needed. Just like going away to college allowed me to be more of the person I wanted to be, not being a student married to my planner allows me to continue to be more of the person I want to be.

While a lot of the things I swore I would do after graduation haven’t quite panned out (ya know, like working out and eating right and reading a book a week…), I’ve been able to actually relax and enjoy myself. Even though there was plenty of time as an undergrad to go enjoy myself, there was always homework and meetings hanging over my head. But now, I can go home to my apartment and do whatever I want! And I don’t have to spend my Saturdays thinking about all of the homework that I have to do on Sunday. I have the time to grow and explore and experience new things. For some, this change in identity can be tough. But for me, it’s a reminder that change can be, and, in my own case, is almost always good. It’s an opportunity to grow and discover more about yourself and the world around you. And isn’t that what college is all about, anyway?

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