By Emma Bennett
When I was a senior at my small high school, I couldn’t wait to graduate and go to a big college.
I had lived in Jamestown almost my entire life, and although I loved growing up here, I was sure that the next step for me would be far, far away.What I missed when I was at a big college
Once I started college at a university out of state, I began to realize that I had taken the best things about a small school for granted. As a freshman, I was paying my dues and taking responsibilities that nobody else wanted, just waiting for my turn to be passionate about what I was doing. I grew increasingly frustrated with my decision to go somewhere that limited me to one, solitary identity: a freshman musical theatre major.
I missed knowing people who were interested in different things than me. I missed performing every chance I got. Above all, I missed being involved and feeling like an important part of what was going on around me. I knew I had the potential to be far more than just that one thing, but I wasn’t sure how to fix it.
Eventually, I came home for a visit that happened to coincide with UJ’s fall musical. I was incredibly jealous at how many people got the chance to perform on the Reiland’s beautiful stage. I met some of the students involved in the show and was surprised to learn that they weren’t all theatre majors; they were graphic designers, engineers, nurses, and everything in between. Every single one of them was immersed in and excited about other activities around campus.
I had seen many shows here before, but that experience really helped push me to make the decision to come to UJ; the perfect school for me had been just around the corner all along.
Becoming a part of the campus community
I was so nervous to start classes here. Most people find it difficult to move away for college, but the hardest part for me was coming back to my hometown. I was determined to keep my head down and play the part of the dutiful freshman for the rest of the year, but I was met with such positivity and acceptance that I quickly became a part of the campus community. Since I transferred to UJ, I have become more than I thought possible: a double major (I never would have known I was interested in marketing!), an actor/designer/director, a member of the choir board, and so much more.
I’ve had the opportunity to work multiple jobs, meet so many interesting people, and even help develop a new service organization on campus. I no longer feel defined by one little piece of who I am. There are absolutely no limits to who you can be, and that’s something I learned here.
I came to college hoping to grow and learn and become a better version of myself. UJ has been a wonderful place to do just that. I am so thankful for all the professors, classmates, and friends that have accepted and challenged me along the way, and really made UJ my home.