“It’s time to begin, isn’t it? I get a little bit bigger but then I’ll admit I’m just the same as I was…”

Every year before school starts, there is a song that I hear for the first time over the summer that becomes a sort of the theme of the year. It is the song I listen to on repeat as I work through homework, when I’m upset, and overall throughout the year.

My freshman year of high school, Miley Cyrus had just come out with “Party in the U.S.A” and that was my jam as I embraced the new world of high school. I wanted to be as cool as Miley in the music video with her cowboy boots and short-shorts surrounded by all her new friends in her new home.

My sophomore year of college, my theme song was “I Lived,” by One Republic. That year, I spent the fall semester abroad in Austria and the spring semester in Washington D.C. doing an internship at the Washington Times. I spent a lot of that year getting out of my comfort zone and I owned every second of it.

Now, I’m approaching the year with “It’s Time,” by Imagine Dragons as my theme. I’m blasting it through my computer speakers as I write this. The song speaks to me because it’s time to gather what I have learned while at Franciscan and really take ownership of the person I’m going to be after I graduate.

“And now it’s time to build from the bottom of the pit, right to the top: Don’t hold back.”

I remember my first Monday at Franciscan; I walked into the job fair in the Finnegan Fieldhouse went to a table surrounded by upperclassmen in matching t-shirts holding newspapers with the big black letters “The Troubadour” at the top. I had written for my high school paper and I was a journalism major eager to become the next Bob Woodward at a large newspaper like The Washington Post or The New York Times after college (oh how my dreams have changed).

A week later, I took my first article, a story about Wi-Fi being added to the academic buildings, and I was hooked. Little did I know that I would work my way up to become a columnist, to Assistant Editor, to Editor-in-chief in four short years. I eventually became one of those upperclassmen in the matching t-shirts trying to recruit people to join The Troubadour team.

As of now, my dream is to go into public relations or marketing with a Catholic-based organization. I want to find a job managing content and social media accounts, promoting my company, which I hope leads others to Heaven.

I know at this time next year, I will be doing the exact same thing I did as a freshman; walking into a new job not quite sure if I’m prepared or ready, but in time, I will find my footing and start climbing.

But for now, I’m not going to forget where I am now and I’m going to soak up every second I have left.

The path to heaven runs through miles of clouded hell right to the top: Don’t look back.”

My first three years at Franciscan challenged me more than I have ever felt before. I was transformed from a bratty teenager who knew everything there was to know, into a young adult who is now unashamed to admit that mom and dad were right and I may be wrong on occasion. I know how to love my friends better; I know how to handle criticism, how to forgive myself for wrong doings, and how to recognize the voice of the Lord in every decision I make.

Those lessons weren’t learned overnight (especially that first one). It took a lot of blood, sweat, and tears. One thing I’ve learned about myself in the last three years is that I carry a surprising amount of hope given to me by the Holy Spirit. When the homework piles up, friendships get tricky, and deadlines grow closer, I’ve learned how to channel that hope.

When the skies are clear, my grades are high, and I finally make the confession lines, that hope still doesn’t go away.

Hope isn’t about looking to the future and wishing things were better. Hope is every day; it’s in the present, the past, and the future.

I don’t ever want to leave this town.”

I will be the first to admit, I’m jumping into this year holding onto a lot of fear. I’m a planner; I like knowing what to expect as far out as possible. In my short 21 years of life, there has been a lot of security; I’ve known what to expect from year to year and now, the farthest thing I know in the future is that in May, I will be holding tightly onto my diploma. But then what? It’s a big, scary red question mark. I don’t know where I’m going to live, where I’ll be working or if I’ll be going to school.

I’m not ready to leave the security of Franciscan University where I know the next year I’m going to be moving into a new dorm with a new roommate taking new classes with new professors. What I’ll be doing is totally unknown and there have been a lot of sleepless nights just pondering that question mark.

But I have to leave Franciscan. I’m not meant to stay there forever. It doesn’t want me to stay forever as a student constantly going to class, chugging gallons of coffee, and attending household commitments. My professors want me to take the tools I have learned from my experience and share it with the world.

Luckily, Franciscan isn’t quite ready to let go of me yet. I still have two semesters to enjoy it.

“I’m never changing who I am.”

When I moved to Washington D.C. my sophomore year, it was the first time in two years that I had to really seek a community of people with the same values as me. I was determined not to let the secular culture change how I see myself, the church, and the world. I knew that wasn’t going to be easy.

Once I found that community, that foundation, I was able to branch out and talk to people as a representative of the Catholic laity.

After I graduate, my identity as a daughter of the Lord will not change. If anything, I will only grow stronger; and I’m so grateful that I have one more year to continue to cultivate that so that when I graduate, my identity can be a witness to all those I encounter of the peace, hope, and joy found as a daughter of mother Church.


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