We all know the phrase, “Academically excellent, passionately Catholic” that stands as the face of Franciscan University.
No doubt that is what it is, but it is so much more than those four words showcase.
It’s about the friend I sat next to first day of class as a freshman who is now my best friend; it’s about the incredible SENT team I had sophomore year who pushed me into giving a talk and taught me the value of relational ministry. It’s about the 5 a.m. walk to the Port in December when I could have been under the warm covers still sleeping.
It’s about the life lessons learned from professors both in the classroom and in office hours. It’s about the first date sophomore year with the guy I will now soon call my husband. It’s about singing the Divine Mercy Chaplet on Saturdays with my household and the late night talks with household sisters.
The list is endless. And no doubt many seniors have the same nostalgic feeling as they reminisce over their time at Franciscan, especially coming up to graduation. I think it really struck me finishing the last Easter Vigil, knowing it would be my last as part of Liturgy Committee for the Chapel. The jobs I held here have been so valuable, and I can’t help to recognize first and foremost the one I held through the Chapel, and I cannot thank the staff of the Chapel enough for the lessons they have taught me in perseverance, in not being afraid of hard work and in a deeper love and understanding of my faith.
The next, obviously, is the Troubadour. I walked into the Troub’s writer workshop in the Spring of 2015 with no clue what I was getting into, a freshman journalism major who just knew I wanted to write.
I watched a guy I started with win “Staff Writer of the Semester,” and I decided next semester my goal was to earn that reward, which I went on to do. The Troubadour taught me how to persevere, to set a goal and to meet it. It improved my writing skills better than anything else could. It earned me a place as assistant editor, and now I had the greatest privilege of serving this last year as editor-in-chief.
I could not have imagined my time at Franciscan without the Troubadour and the way it pushed me forward. To Allegra and all the future staff of the 2018-2019 school year, I could not be more excited for you all and what you will accomplish in this next year. It is going to be amazing.
All these memories, all these people who have come in and out of my life, all the classes, the groups and household I was involved with, each were such a unique part of my time at Franciscan.
And I truly believe what I learned at Franciscan is that it taught me about who I am. That is a true blessing because we can fall easily into the trap of letting ourselves be identified by some aspect of our time at Franciscan, but that is not the bulk of our experience. As students, it is wrong to stereotype based on what household we belong to, what mission trip we’ve been on or how many holy hours we’ve had in the Port. Each of these is crucial and a unique part of the story, but they were not the full story.
The full story is that each small portion added is what made me who I am today. Franciscan taught me valuable life lessons through people and events that have come and gone, and the biggest one I learned is just to be who I was meant to be. Not who my household says I am, not who the stereotypical franny is: not any of that, but who I am right now. My own story was different from most: I lived on campus one semester and I never went on mission or to Austria, but that’s what makes my story unique. Everyone’s adventures, trials and struggles are what make them so different and what make each one special.
The best advice I received, with every job, trial, friend and experience that came through my time at Franciscan, is just be yourself. Live in the present moment. Matthew Kelly coined the phrase, “Do the next right thing.” That’s huge. There is no reason to keep running around, trying to get involved in different praise groups, different ministries, different household events. Pick the ones you thrive in and go from there. Don’t be stuck as a stereotype. Just keep going. And, as St. Catherine of Siena said, “You will set the world on fire.”