As a graduating journalism major, I have reported on my share of stories for Stony Brook University. I have spent countless hours in the newsroom and The Statesman office calling sources, writing last-second articles and copy-editing stories until I wanted to throw my laptop across the room.
But as a graduating senior, not just as a graduating journalist, I’m finding myself focusing not on the stories that I’ve reported on, but on the stories that I’ve made.
I remember the time I locked myself out of my dorm freshman year at 3 a.m. so I slept in the showers (which was surprisingly comfortable). I think of the time my friends and I stole trays from Roth Cafe and went sledding down the Tabler hill. I remember the time I was walking up the stairs in Frey Hall and my skirt ripped down the back, completely exposing the taco underpants I was wearing that day.
All my stories and experiences have taught me invaluable lessons and gave me the opportunity to see new perspectives. Before graduating, I want to share the key things that my time at Stony Brook has taught me.
Join clubs: Yes, I know, you’ve heard this one a thousand times before, but get involved. It’s the stereotypical college advice that’s plastered on every counselor’s poster board and encouraged by every adult in your life. And for good reason. College is nothing without extracurriculars because they are the backbone of your university. They are the random cupcake sales in the SAC lobby, they are the students giving out free hugs in the academic mall. They are awesome little gems that brighten the student body’s day. So join them! Be a part of what makes your school fun and have some fun yourself while doing it.
Go back to meetings: Once you join a club, go back. Don’t just go to the first meeting and say, “this isn’t for me” and dip. Give clubs a chance. Maybe you didn’t connect with anyone the first day, but every new meeting is a chance to meet new people.
Work can come second, just don’t fail: Maybe don’t go out drinking every night of the week (unless you have a liver of steel), but don’t be afraid to throw the books aside now and then. Full disclosure – there were a number of times when I should have dedicated the extra hour to writing a paper, or really should not have gone to Ladies Night because of an exam I had Friday morning. But I did. I did not fail. Maybe I didn’t do as great on my tests, but there are times when my priority wasn’t getting an A in my random DEC class, it was hanging out with my friends and making memories.
Stay on campus longer: I remember my freshman year I would go to classes and then immediately go back to my dorm. I studied in my dorm room lounge or at my desk in my room. I never thought to go back onto campus if I had to. Then one day, while studying endlessly on my bed, I came to a great realization: I was a total hermit. The next year, I made an effort to stay on campus longer. I studied in the library, grabbed lunch with friends at the SAC, went to the gym (some days) and spent countless hours roaming the campus for an open outlet. It was a lot more effort, but I felt more connected to the student body.
Talk to people: As a journalist, having to approach random strangers is an integral part of my job. While it’s important for reporters to not be afraid of talking to people, I found that being brave in approaching others helped me in all aspects of college. If you’re going to a gym class, talk to the people in the class. Strike up a conversation with the person next to you in your Javits lecture. Complain to someone while standing in line at Starbucks about how late this is going to make you to class. People don’t bite, so be gregarious.
Go to office hours: THEY GIVE RECOMMENDATIONS! GO TO OFFICE HOURS!
Don’t be afraid to change: For a lot of students, college is the first long period of time away from their family. It’s the first time being away from a lifestyle that shaped you, a lifestyle that you have been living since you were born. I lived in Albany all my life before coming to Stony Brook and being four hours away from my family for most of the year was really difficult at first. In the end, I’m so happy that I did it. It gave me a chance to see new perspectives and find out new things about myself.
Don’t feel pressured to change either: Change is good, but the one thing harder than adapting to new surroundings is having the courage to stand your ground. Don’t let college waiver your beliefs or who you are as a person. Don’t be afraid to stay the same, and don’t let the thoughts of the people around you dictate your behavior.
Go on a Tinder date: You’ve got to do it at least once. Get that free dinner!
There’s no right way to do college: In the end, these are your four years. If you want to join a sorority, join one. If you’re not a party person, that’s okay, too. Be adventurous and explore your options, but don’t try to fit a mold of how you feel you should be “doing college.” There is no right way and this time is different for each person on campus.
Thank you Stony Brook for giving me the opportunity to share my stories with you. Now it is your turn to go out there and create your own.