The other day a violent, unexpected knock disturbed the sweet serendipity known as “The Bachelor,” which has come to take over my six-person, hopelessly romantic, female household. Despite having to play “nose goes” to determine which of us would be the reluctant volunteer in rising from the couch to answer the door, our unwelcomed disturbance soon turned into the hardest question I have ever been asked.
As graduating seniors this May, our guy friends wanted to make a video for the group to always have as a reflection on our past four years together as Buckeyes. To do this, they needed to film us all individually answering a single question: What does Ohio State mean to you?
In this moment, I was caught off guard and unable to put into words exactly what this school meant to me. I realized that as I prepare to graduate, I need not be sad that my time as an undergraduate student at the greatest university in the nation is coming to an end, but rather, this calls for reflection on my time as a Buckeye and most importantly, recognize the unbelievable opportunity it is to attend this school.
So, what does The Ohio State University mean to me?
I first arrived on this campus four years ago as a freshman who was leaving home for the first time and could not have been happier about it, thinking one more day in my parents’ household would be the death of me. However, as tears rolled down my cheek while hugging them goodbye, I soon learned I wasn’t ready at all.
Growing up, I made friends through sports and played them to mask my social insecurities, lacking the belief that I had much more purpose in life other than making the three when the team needed it or sinking the putt to send the team to the state tournament. So naturally, I had no educational interests other than to devote my time in a classroom to studying the sport industry, the major that originally drew me to OSU.
This soon changed.
OSU pushed me to rediscover who I thought I was. OSU forced me beyond the boundaries that I had restricted myself to for my first 18 years. OSU gave me confidence, but most important, OSU gave me opportunity.
Educationally, OSU forced me to excel in the classroom. This school provided me with the drive to never accept anything less than my absolute best and gave me the courage to set that bar high. It allowed me to take a passion and turn it into a career while implementing the ambition in my heart to always go the extra mile because if I didn’t, then I simply didn’t deserve to call myself a Buckeye.
In leadership, OSU gave me a chance. A follower by nature, I was forced out of my shell. Being the dynamic, large school it is, OSU challenged me to become my own person, for if I failed to do so, I would easily fall to the shadows. Through student boards, campus jobs and organizations, the thousands offered here, OSU gave me the opportunity to become the person I had previously only pursued.
In adventure, OSU taught me to seek it. Over my four years, I have traveled to seven countries and 11 foreign cities. It brought me to Dallas, Texas, and allowed me to witness a memory that I will never let go. Before this school, I was under the impression that Michigan (for its lakes, of course) was my favorite place in the world. OSU encouraged me outside my comfort zone and opened my mind to the world.
Socially, I owe OSU everything. OSU gave me the friendships that I will carry with me for the rest of my life. This school tore down those social insecurities and provided me with a network that is recognized globally. I have not only met my best friends here but have also seen what it is like to have 100,000 of my closest friends hanging out, cheering on the pride of this great school.
Needless to say, OSU means absolutely everything to me. As I walk across that stage, I will be surrounded by all my fellow Buckeyes and will be comforted knowing that everyone I have to thank for loving and supporting me over the years will be sharing in this day with me. But I will also know that I would be nothing without this school.
To the freshman at this great university, recognize all the opportunity that is at your fingertips and don’t wait around for it to come to you; go after it. To the sophomores, try something new because you have no reason not to. To the juniors, don’t feel like life needs to be figured out already. Be wild, be youthful, make mistakes and please soak up your last football season.
And to my fellow peers that make up the great class of 2016, however many there are out there, I want to thank each and every one of you and I want us to join together in thanking OSU. I want to wish you all the best of luck as we look to take on the “real world,” but before we go, I challenge you all to stop and think, what does OSU mean to you?
Journalism and sport industry, Class of 2016