Editor bids farewell to GU, supporters


Gannon University seniors will stroll across the stage on May 9 at the Erie Insurance Arena, shake President Dr. Keith Taylor’s hand and become graduates.

During this time, all the graduates will be focusing on their futures being thrust upon them, but it’s important to reflect on how we reached this milestone. More importantly, we need to recognize the people who have guided us along the way.

My parents, David and Mary Sondel, have supported me from the moment I was born. Both were willing to wake up at 5 a.m. and drive me to hockey practices at Niagara University, and work overtime to allow me to have so many great opportunities.

Their work ethic and ability to put others before themselves has set a model that I hope to mold my life around.

My sister, Taylor Sondel, taught me how to continue to be a better person every day. She has become the hardest worker I know, and continues to amaze me with her ability to make others around her feel comfortable and happy.

Family has been the most important part to my journey of becoming a college graduate, and I’m blessed to have been able to add more family members along the road to flipping my tassel.

Gannon students often complain about Erie’s weather, campus housing contracts and Metz food, but it’s truly the people here who make this university exceptional. In the fall of 2011, I came to campus and knew one student from my high school, but essentially needed to reinvent myself.

It didn’t take long for the Gannon club hockey team to become my second family. I knew from the first team meeting that we had a special group of guys.

Michael Martin, C.J. Thibault, Mike Foti and Scott Scholl collectively took me under their wing and helped me become a part of something larger than myself. I will never forget the late-night practices, locker room banter and road trips to Denison and Wheeling Jesuit.

My family continued to grow when I became a brother of Alpha Phi Delta fraternity with Chris Greco and Jason Wahl in the spring of 2012. I only had a sister growing up, and this group of beauties showed me what it was like to have brothers.

In the summer of 2012, I decided to stay at Gannon and lived with my brothers Steve Lemon, Bryan Sundy and Sean Floor. It was during this time that I was introduced to the Gannon University grounds crew, and had one of the most enjoyable summers of my life.

I spent sweaty mornings and afternoons with Mike Wellington, Bill Colt, Jerry Fisher, Dan Balko and Kevin Connaroe, and we never failed to have a great time in the process. Colt would regularly bring me to tears from laughing, Connaroe became a close friend and Wellington reminded me about Google-mapping my way home.

Fisher has become my daily weather man and a constant beam of sunshine in my life. He always managed to make me laugh and is a constant reminder that positivity is the key to happiness.

I joined The Gannon Knight newspaper staff at the start of my junior year and fell in love with sports writing. At this time I also had the pleasure of getting to know Frank Garland, The Gannon Knight adviser.

Garland has since become a father figure and helped me work toward becoming a professional. He cares deeply about his students and has been a major contributor to my growth as a writer.

Garland takes the most time out of any professor I have met to evaluate his students’ work and offer advice and improvements. I respect the way he carries himself – in a thoughtful, calm and modest manner – and I hope to be able to adopt his positive qualities in my life.

Last but certainly not least, I wanted to acknowledge the woman who has become my best friend, Emma Sciullo.

We have come a long way since I walked you across the ice after you sang the national anthem at my hockey game during my junior year. Even though this chapter of my life is closing, we have a long road ahead of us.

I started with a tight-knit family of four, but since it has blossomed into a clan of loving supporters.

When I walk across the stage at the Erie Insurance Arena, I want each of you to know that I couldn’t have done it without you, and that it has been one heck of a ride.


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