Reflecting on my personal growth throughout college

Julia O'Regan, Features Editor

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Iona College was the first college that I was accepted to. I hadn’t known what to expect when I applied to a little private school down in New Rochelle, New York, of all places. I’m from a mid-sized town in southeast Massachusetts; almost everyone from my class was going to schools like University of Massachusetts Amherst, University of New Hampshire or the University of Rhode Island. But I found myself applying to a school someone had mentioned to me in passing because the application fee was waived.

I had my sights set on a school like Pace University in New York or Suffolk University in Boston, but that first acceptance from this small private school called Iona caught my eye. However, this almost worked against me. I didn’t want to be the person who just chose the first school they got into. It was because of this that I made my decision to come to Iona at the last possible second, but what a good decision it was. I knew as soon as I made my decision that I had made the right one.

Despite my excitement about college, the first three weeks at Iona were some of the hardest I’ve had over the last four years. Honestly, I think I considered finishing out the semester and then transferring. To be fair, I think the first three weeks are the hardest for everyone starting their freshman year. I didn’t know anyone but my roommates, and I was a very quiet and reserved person—most would say I still am. The clubs and activities hadn’t started yet, and as an out-of-state student I was far from my home, my family and my comfort zone.

But that was it. That was the last time I ever considered transferring or leaving Iona. When I started getting involved on campus, everything changed. I found my place, my people and my drive. I began to break out of my anxious little shell and grow into a person I didn’t think possible. I’ve been able to accomplish things at Iona that I don’t think I would have done anywhere else. Sure, everyone has their little complaints about their school or things they wish had gone differently, but I have gained so much from my time here and I wouldn’t trade the experience for anything.

I have grown as a journalist, as a writer and as a person. I changed my major three times before finally settling on the one that I had originally started with. I added a minor and then changed it. I joined twelve clubs and organizations before whittling it down to five. I hosted a radio show for four years. I’ve accepted leadership roles and internships. All of this is thanks to Iona.

Now that I’m leaving Iona, I’m not exactly sure what my life is going to look like. While I know I’m ready and prepared to move on, I can’t help but be a little apprehensive. I’m moving back to the state I left four years ago to start a new chapter in law school, and I’m not sure what to expect. As much as I love visiting home and going back to Massachusetts, New York has become a home away from home over last few years. It’s a strange sentiment that I didn’t think I’d feel returning to Massachussetts.

I imagine this uncertain future will be a little like how I started applying to colleges, how I started at Iona, or how I sat down and started writing this piece. I was entirely unsure of what would come of it. But I buckled in, found whatever peace I could, drank far too much coffee, accepted the inevitable lack of sleep and was more than pleasantly surprised at the result.

Thank you Iona, both the college and the community. Thank you for the knowledge you’ve gifted me with, the personal strength you’ve armed me with and the unforgettable experiences you’ve given me.