By Luke Johnson
After becoming my “home away from home” for the past four years, my time as an undergraduate at St. Norbert College has come to an end. I join many other graduating seniors as we juggle feelings of both sadness and joy. I find sadness in leaving this wonderful college and all of the people I have grown so close to over the years. Yet, I find great joy in the growth and wonderful memories that I have experienced because of SNC.
Reflecting back on my journey at SNC, everything started in Bergstrom Hall as part of the Honors Program. While I admittedly was quite shy my first year, Bergstrom was a fantastic place for me to get to know the other students in the Honors Program. Even now, four years later, I love the fact that I can see someone from Bergstrom and we immediately have a connection simply because of our time spent together in the residence hall. More broadly, this sense of community is one of the things I will miss most about SNC. I feel that I am always surrounded by kindness, support, and excellent faculty and staff who genuinely want to see me succeed.
This wonderful feeling of community is even more amazing because of the fact that I’ve been able to experience it on an absolutely beautiful campus. As I reflect on my final weeks here at SNC, I am thankful for the many special places I have found on campus. Whether it’s the view from the docks behind the Campus Center or my favorite study spot on the third floor of the Mulva Library, I will miss living in such a beautiful place.
I want to acknowledge that the college experience can be different for everyone. I definitely had periods of time throughout my four years at SNC where I felt lonely or homesick. These feelings can be difficult, but for anyone going through this experience, I can assure you that you are not alone. I found great benefit from joining some of the many different clubs offered at SNC, finding an on-campus job, and generally putting myself out there to meet new friends even when it was difficult. Coming into my first year at SNC, I feel that I had this idealistic version of what college should be, but my take-home lesson from my time at SNC is that it’s okay if college doesn’t go “perfect” all the time. The struggles I have experienced along the way have truly helped me grow, and if I were to describe my time at SNC in one word, I would choose “growth”.
I asked many of my fellow graduating seniors to share their own words or phrases that they feel would describe their time at SNC. Domenic DeMaria ‘21 chose the defining feature of SNC by using the word “communio.” Similar to myself, Daniel Hawbaker ‘21 described his experience as filled with “growth.” Emily Hirsch ‘21 described her experience as “fulfilling” because “I’ve learned so much over the past four years, and it’s made me into a well-rounded person as I embark on my next steps in life!”. Andrea’ Boyd ‘21 describes her experience as “opportunistic”, Sarah Vandenhouten ‘21 sees her experience as “transformative”, and Hannah Peck ‘21 believes her SNC experience was “unforgettable”. Brianna Amore ‘21 describes her time at SNC as “the awakening” because “it was through this experience that I was able to start living life for me, find who I truly was as well as what I was capable of, and discover the person that I always wanted to be”. Finally, Derek Huber ‘21 describes his SNC experience in a way that I feel many who have experienced SNC’s sense of “communio” would agree on. It is “once in a lifetime”.
St. Norbert College is a truly wonderful place that I am going to miss greatly. As you can hear from the many graduating seniors who described their SNC experience, there is something special about SNC. Through the environment of kindness and support on campus, I believe SNC is a great place for students to learn, grow, and find ways to make a difference in the world. Your journey at SNC may not always feel “perfect”, but challenges along the way can contribute greatly to personal growth. Thank you, SNC, for four wonderful years of memories, for contributing to my growth as a person, and for an experience that is truly once in a lifetime.