Facing Fear & Finding Community – Meaghan Cronin

My biggest worry upon entering college wasn’t class schedules, declaring a major, or even being away from home. Though those were all present in my mind in some way, the biggest fear that overshadowed them all—I was terribly afraid that I wouldn’t make friends.

Making new friends
I knew this fear was irrational, but I couldn’t shake it from my mind. In high school, I felt blessed with a great group of outgoing friends, but I had gotten so comfortable there that I was scared to leave them. I wasn’t convinced I could fit into this new community, so I was stunned when that fear began to ease within my first few days at UJ.

I quickly settled into new routines with my roommates and classmates, and I was suddenly excited about meeting this campus full of new people! Even then, I could feel a sense of belonging. My years at UJ have proved to me time and again that good people surround me here in ways I could never have predicted, and their influence has grounded and shaped me invaluably.

Meagan Cronin posing with friends.

I don’t know where I’d be without the friends I made that first year. I’ve been so lucky to have kept meeting new wonderful friends every year, though those first friends have been such solid staples through my college life (3rd floor Watson forever!). While these friends grounded me, I have been so lucky to expand and deepen the friendships I’ve made throughout campus—especially those I found through my involvement in UJ Performing Arts.

Being involved in the arts
The best decision I could have made as a nervous, artsy freshman was joining theater and Concert Choir. I chose UJ knowing that their exceptional arts programs would be a major part of my college experience, but the people in these groups—the people I never thought I would find—are what make these experiences so incredible. The support, passion, and love I have felt through these communities have made me a more whole and joyful person, and I hope to keep that loving spirit at the core of my life.

Meagan Cronin in Spamalot

I’ve been given countless opportunities through the arts that have challenged me as a person, a creative, and as a friend, and I would have been lost trying to face those challenges without the support network I’ve found at UJ. I am SO grateful for these people and the beautiful things we have gotten to make and experience together. Whatever you’re doing, the people around you make all the difference.

Connecting with faculty and staff
In addition to the students, the faculty and staff are the foundation of campus, and their enthusiasm, wild intelligence, and genuine care for their students have supported me so strongly through my time here. Their honest feedback and hard work have been vital for me as a student, and their caring spirits make them incredible mentors and friends. I am forever grateful for the people who have believed in me, listened to me, and nurtured my abilities.

Looking back
I am so changed and still so myself after my time here. I have grown into a new version of myself every year, and I know that going forward, I will keep growing because of all the love and support that found me at UJ. If I could go back the four years and tell her, I know scared freshman Meggie would be so relieved to hear about all the goodness and love waiting for her in this community.

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