Jeremy Rodriguez’s senior goodbye

June 12, 2012. I’ve always been good at remembering significant dates and this was no exception as it was my transfer orientation at Rowan. I was terrified of starting a new life at such a huge university (at least compared to the community college I transferred from) and I was scared of the prospect of making new friends.

However, my fears immediately disappeared when I entered the conference room in Bozorth with several other journalism majors. It was there I met Christian Hetrick who was The Whit’s sports editor at the time. I may have barely known the difference between football and soccer (and I still don’t) but Hetrick immediately made me feel like I was home and that The Whit staff would be my new family.

When I saw the Rowan Announcer about the first Whit meeting of the semester, I did not hesitate to show up. As time went on, I tried to do whatever I could for the paper, including copy editing and writing stories.

In October 2012, Matt Perez, the arts and entertainment editor at the time, sent out an email asking for an assistant. I immediately jumped at the opportunity and eventually, my byline proudly said “Assistant A&E Editor” under my name.

June 12, 2013. Yes. Exactly one year after my own transfer orientation was another orientation for incoming transfer students. There were several major differences, though. Hetrick was the editor-in-chief. I was the arts and entertainment editor and many other friends I grew close to moved up into higher leadership positions in the paper. Hetrick couldn’t make it to this orientation due to a scheduling conflict but I was more than willing to introduce incoming transfer students to the world of Rowan and The Whit.

At this meeting, I met two transfer students who had the same eager look in their eyes like I did one year earlier, Pete Imbesi and Laura Pollack. They both were excited about their new lives at Rowan and I knew they would be the go-to people for writing Whit stories, with Imbesi passionate about arts and Pollack passionate about news.

Months later, Pollack became the assistant news editor and Imbesi became my assistant (along with Rebecca Lirio who also did a fabulous job with writing stories and helping me out of several binds this past year).

Now, here we are. Imbesi is now the arts editor, Pollack is the news editor and I, along with several other staff members, am now graduating.

A lot can happen over a short span of time. While my legacy at The Whit was short-lived, I am proud to say I made the most of that time. I never thought I would have amazing opportunities such as interviewing celebrities (I still brag to everyone about B.o.B telling me I have a great interview voice) and making so many life-long friendships.

If there’s anything my time at The Whit has taught me it’s that your time at college is short and it is up to you to not only take advantage of every professional development opportunity but to also make memories.

I have no idea where I will be on June 12, 2014 but I know that I will look back and know that I made the most of every moment as I went from scared transfer student to writer to assistant to editor to mentor to graduate.

While I will still shed a few tears as graduation draws closer, I will still hold this famous Dr. Seuss quote to my heart:

“Don’t cry because it’s over. Smile because it happened.”

For comments/questions about this story, email [email protected] or tweet @thewhitonline.

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