Road to college takes twists and turns

When I was a little girl, I was highly convinced I would end up at Penn State University. I loved going to the football games with my family and I owned a lot of Penn State merchandise. In high school, we had to conduct a mini-project our freshman year about the school of our choice and a major we wanted to look into.

I’ve wanted to write ever since kindergarten, so journalism was my choice of major. The school I looked at? Penn State. I looked at the main campus, Altoona and DuBois. I also spent family weekends at State College and always ended up walking around main campus. Both my parents are Penn State alumni, and now my two younger sisters are Nittany Lions. Penn State just seemed to be in my future.

In my senior year of high school, while journalism still was the major I aimed for, the school I set my heart on changed. My parents and I went, on a whim, to visit Mercyhurst and Gannon for a weekend. While I thought Mercyhurst was a nice campus, I wasn’t going to make a decision until the next day.

I still remember walking around Gannon’s campus for the first time that weekend. I felt at home. I remember imagining myself walking around campus with books, studying in the library and going to the cafeteria with friends. I knew that in the fall, I would enroll as a Golden Knight.

My time here has been amazing. I have had so many great experiences and have met amazing people during my four years here. I made awesome friends who have stuck by me through many good and some bad times. All the professors I have met have impacted my life, and I would like to thank them, especially those who teach within my major. It is a great feeling to actually know my professors on a personal level, and they don’t see me as just a number. To them, I am Caitie, not student No. 67.

I learned not only in the classroom, but outside of it as well. I learned how to function on my own while still keeping in touch with family back home. I learned how to share a room with someone else. Though I found it easy, I know some didn’t have the same experience. I also lived for two years in the Catholic House and learned how to live in a community that wasn’t formed by blood.

I firmly believe that through my time here, my relationship with God has grown stronger. I feel as though I am less afraid to admit it than perhaps I had been in the past. I have grown as a person and student as well as a child of God.

I also firmly believe he brought me to Gannon. Like I said, it was a whim that I even asked to visit; I just felt like it was where I needed to be. I believe that God planted that seed in my head and heart.

Looking back on freshman year, I remember the first article I ever wrote for The Knight. It was an editorial about how Gannon, and Erie in general, is like a small town despite its population. While it was just an observation at the time, now I realize how much of that is true. Gannon is like a small town, where you always see a face you know. It’s a community that is always friendly, caring and, well, neighborly. I still have that home-like feeling every day.

It is funny how my life changed so quickly. Had I not visited Gannon that weekend , I probably would be sitting in an apartment at State College right now. I would have had a much different experience. Would I have been happy? Sure. But it would have been different.

I make the joke that I am the equivalent of the fifth dentist who doesn’t recommend Colgate—you know, like four out of five dentists recommend Colgate and four out of five Ryans will have a Penn State degree. Want to hear a confession? I never even applied to Penn State. It still shocks me to this day.

I will graduate on May 7 with a degree in journalism communications, and my diploma will display the Gannon crest. I am happy my life turned out how did. I will miss Gannon and the moments that came with it.


[email protected]