As I take a moment to reflect on my time on campus I can confidently say nothing went according to plan. That being said, I am only now learning why that’s okay. I would deem these last four years not what I was expecting, but what I needed. As for my fellow 2023 grads, what some would call the “best four years of your life” looked a lot different for us. Having to decipher your purpose as a student while in a pandemic was pretty daunting and at times all-consuming. While I wouldn’t trade the time I was able to spend with my mom and dad at home, having to accept the fact that my college experience was going to be a lot different from what I originally intended was quite the mental task. So as I alluded to earlier, while some may say college will be the best four years of your life, I will forever argue that college will be the most formative four years of your life but not necessarily the best.
Having been on a few interviews recently, only now has it set in that COVID-19 took a great chunk of opportunity away from me. Having to have spent the entirety of my sophomore year behind a computer screen; inundated with Zoom calls, faulty wifi and personal grief, I knew that when I came back I needed to give it everything I had to make up for lost time.
Inspired by the words of Lebron James after winning the 2016 NBA Finals who said “I set out a goal, two years, when I came back… to bring a Championship to this city. I gave everything that I have.” That’s exactly what I did, and oh yeah, we won a Natty too and I had a hand in it, or should I say paw…
With the mantra in the back of my mind, I came back to campus for my junior year with one goal and one goal only: to chase big moments. I started out the year finally in my Sport Management program. I became a mascot and got Women in Sport off the ground and running again. I became an art minor where I found a creative outlet I was missing while on campus. And then I found The Daily Campus. Being able to write for the Sports section of the DC reminded me of why I wanted to work in the sport industry to begin with. Having had some initial experiences that started to cloud that passion, having the opportunity to write freely about sports and the athletes I looked up to as a kid, allowed me to rediscover “my why.” Now that I’ve finished all of my classes towards the Sport Management degree and acquiring a new perspective on things, having been able to express myself as a fan at The Daily Campus helped me to better separate the two.
My senior year consisted of serving as the beat writer for the UConn women’s soccer team, working for the Sport Communication department, mascotting in Houston where we brought back the chip and most importantly finding out more about myself as I navigated all the ups and downs. Yes, I know it’s controversial, but the chip isn’t the most important thing, and that’s what I hope those who come after me realize too. Winning is such a small fraction of the time spent and if you can’t love the process just as much as winning, if not more, you are going to have a hard time. I know I did. I wasn’t patient and found myself forcing certain things in hopes that a better result would be the outcome but that wasn’t the case. I needed to refocus my desires, acknowledge the conditions I was wanting things to occur under and identified what was realistic.
To be completely transparent, I still haven’t found the formula to it all and I don’t think there really is one. So, as we all continue to find what years will be the best for us, for now I’m content with knowing that the best is still out there and encourage anyone who is finding themselves in a rut to do the same. Figure out what you desire most, collect the resources you may need to complete it (which may just be yourself) and have some fun with it. As we’ve all had to experience it in different ways throughout the lockdown, life is fragile. So take the path you’ve always wanted to take but haven’t yet because of the fear. Show your friends how much you appreciate them, take the photos and go to the games. Chase those big moments and get crafty when things aren’t going your way.
To wrap up, when I was graduating high school the quote I left on a brick by the art wing was “A true champion champions others.” As I now get set to graduate college I would like to add “A true champion champions others but must champion themselves in order to do so for others.”
It’s been a time UConn. I’ll see you when I see you, Katherine.