I remember move-in day as if it were yesterday. I moved in early because I was selected to participate in a pre-orientation program called the Leadership and Service Institute. I got up at 7 a.m. with three cars packed and ready to go (yes, I really brought three cars worth of stuff; I’ve learned to minimize my belongings since then). I was able to make some friends ahead of time in order to avoid the awkwardness of trying to find people to attend orientation events with. I remember thinking how lucky I was to have made such close friends while other people were still trying to find theirs. Then classes started, and I soon realized those friends would become acquaintances. It wasn’t because of anything bad, but as you start to branch out and adjust to your new routine your schedules don’t match up anymore. But it is comforting to know that I have been a part of a student body that is typically friendly, and that I have been able to maintain some of those friendships with people whom I met on my very first day at W&J.
Being at W&J has been more rewarding than I ever imagined. I have had plenty of highs and lows, but I think I’ve learned just as much from the bad times as I have from the good. There are many students here who come from all different backgrounds and orientations, and having the opportunity to interact with those students has helped shape the person I am today. I am one for embracing diversity, and have been able to help foster that idea on campus through my classes and clubs.
W&J also gave me friends that I will have for the rest of my life. Everyone always tells you that you meet some of your lifelong friends in college, but until you experience it firsthand, it is hard to understand or believe that statement. I never imagined becoming as close with as many people as I have. Because of them I learned about different perspectives, had support on the hard days, and enjoyed endless laughs.
One of my favorite parts about W&J is the option to pursue a thematic major and build your own curriculum. During fall semester of my sophomore year, I was enrolled in a gender and women’s studies (GWS) course. I loved the course and the material so much, and I knew I wanted to extend it beyond the minor. With the help of several faculty members, I was able to propose GWS as a major. This major changed my life and how I view myself, the community, and the world.
Another component of my time at W&J that I will be forever grateful for is the opportunity to be a successful student-athlete. As a four-year member of the varsity track and field team and two-time captain, I am so happy I decided to continue my athletic career in college. W&J has given me the chance to be challenged academically and athletically while still providing the necessary resources to help student-athletes succeed in their course work. Being both a full-time student and two-season athlete kept me busy, but focused.
As my last few weeks wind down, it still has not fully hit me that I am going to be graduating and that I will never live on this campus again. While I am feeling excited and ready to move on to my next chapter, I’m simultaneously feeling uneasy about not being able to wake up and hang out with my best friends outside on the patio, or joke around with Paul in the commons, or go to Monti’s for a pretzel and milkshake on a Friday night. You don’t realize how much of an impact a place has on your life until you’re no longer going to be there. We as students spend about nine months out of the year here for four years and, for me, W&J became home. And now, as I move on to graduate school, another institution will become home. I am confident that my undergraduate education has prepared me for a successful graduate school experience, and for a bright future overall.
Dobbs, who is from Wyano, Pa., will be attending the college student personnel program at Bowling Green State University this fall to pursue a master’s degree in higher education and student affairs. She was also awarded an assistantship at Oberlin College where she will live and fulfill the role of coordinator for multicultural & identity-based communities in the Office of Residential Education.