One Year Ago Today
I sat on a bench I had passed many times. I had barely even noticed it. For four years it was just an afterthought. Now, that bench consumed my thoughts.
It was the day of my college graduation.
I looked out over one of the ponds on campus. The sun was shining. It was a gorgeous day. One of those days you don’t want to end. I had more than one reason to feel that way.
I was all alone. Somehow, no one else was walking around campus. It was quiet. Almost like a sanctuary. I sat there thinking about the previous four years.
It was around that same pond that all the freshman had gathered that fall evening four years earlier. My parents stood next to me as I started a new journey. We said our goodbyes, and I went back to my dorm room with my new roommates. I had only just met them.
Ben and Luke. I thought back to all the shenanigans we pulled freshman year. Like that time I accidently threw Ben’s clothes in the dumpster. Classic.
Then there was the time I met my fellow BUILDers. I’ll never forget that first retreat. We went to a nearby monastery. I remember looking around the room at all these uber-talented, genius-level people. I felt so out-of-place. We all grew together over those four years. I wasn’t sure what I would do without our weekly gatherings. My eyes started to well up.
I thought back to the Oakwood-Manges games, dressing up for Midnight Breakfast and the silence that fell over the Dining Commons when I yelled at Christian Brenner. And yes, I thought about the classes, professors and countless hours studying.
I thought about Oakwood 116, Logan 1616, Manges 355, Oakwood 314, Brenneman 301, and Manges 262.
I thought about the Admissions Office — where I worked so many student jobs. But that building was more than just an office to me. I built so many friendships there.
The tears started to run down my cheek.
I thought about Summer Team. The guys I stayed with that summer — Gavin, Tim, Big Ben, Nat, Kevin and Sean — became some of my closest friends.
I loved college. My experience at Bethel College was worth every penny and more.
The flowers were blooming around campus that day. I don’t think anyone could have picked a better day for graduation. That was May 2, 2015.
I look back now, one year later, and see that day was both a beginning and an end. It was the end of my undergraduate career. The end of my four years. The end of being that loud freshman and the end of being the guy who dressed up as Harry Caray. It was the end of a lot of things, but the start of so much more.
That’s a cliched sentiment at graduations for sure. We’ve all heard speeches about the meaning of commencement. But it’s true. Even though it feels like you’re leaving so much behind, your starting out on a new journey. That certainly happened for me.
Just two days after I graduated college, I started my first job. One hundred and thirty-three days later, I married Sarah. Recently, I wrote about some of the things I’ve learned over that time.
We associate college with learning. I certainly learned a lot in my four years at Bethel. But the learning did not end when I donned my cap and gown. I’ve learned so much since that day. It’s been the life experience kind of learning.
But many of those seeds were planted in the garden of my college years. I would never have gotten my job if it weren’t for the skills I learned as a Communication major. Almost daily, I find the lessons taught by my college mentor popping back up in my mind. And during my junior year of college, I met a certain girl who changed my life forever.
It would be impossible for me to thank everyone who impacted me over those four years. I had the best college experience imaginable. As I look back now, one year after graduation, I am filled with joy and gratitude.
I remember thinking that I didn’t want to leave. As I sat on that bench one year ago, I wanted to stay. But I had to move on, and I’m glad I did. I had no idea what life after college would be like. Since I’ve only lived one year after college, in some ways I still don’t. But, boy, has it been some year!
No matter how many years pass from that moment on the bench though, my college experience will never truly leave me. It helped shape the man I am today. I will carry those lessons with me until the day I die. It really leaves me with only one thing left to say…
Thank you, Bethel College, thank you so much.