On Nov. 11, 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic was taking its toll on everyone. The switch to virtual classes left me angry and impatient to an extent I’d never felt in my life. I was complaining constantly to my friends and parents, to the point that no one wanted to hear it anymore.
But as luck would have it, just as I reached the end of my rope, the Rowan Healthy Campus Initiative hosted its third-annual Student Mental Health Conference. The theme was “pandemic stories” and speakers were invited to tell the audience how the pandemic affected them personally, be it in positive or negative ways.
The event was largely virtual, but room 221 of the Chamberlain Student Center was fortunate enough to get a few chairs and a working projector for a bit of in-person Q&A.
I took to the podium and ranted for a few minutes, hoping I didn’t slur any of my words. But as I was on my way out, I was stopped by a young woman who introduced herself as Helena, a reporter for The Whit, who wanted to interview me.
In March 2021, The Whit published the speech I gave at the conference as the first issue of “The Student Side,” what I hoped to be a weekly advice column on how to be a better student using my own experience and perspective.
But as time went on, the column shifted more from the day-to-day struggles of student life, such as roommates, homework, and the like, to more universal and high-concept topics such as relationships, honesty, gratitude, fulfillment, and finding happiness. Although I wrote 22 columns including this one, looking back, probably 12 of them say a variation of the same thing.
I started writing for The Whit halfway through my junior year. Here I am now, graduating in a few short weeks, and I find it both oddly upsetting and strangely satisfying to be leaving the paper.
What do I mean? Well, it’s upsetting because I won’t have the outlet I’m used to having. I’m always thinking about the kinds of topics I write about. That’s why I write about them,in the hopes that someone might read and benefit from them. I could keep writing 800-word columns every week, but I’d be hard-pressed to find someone to take them. And yet, I don’t feel I need to anymore.
It’s satisfying because I feel I’ve said all I needed to say, at least for now. These past four years have been the most mind-altering years of my life. I’ve learned so much from so many people, as well as new skills, new ways of thinking, and new ways of communicating that have helped me figure out so much about who I am and what it is I want out of life.
Writing for The Whit has been just as much of a self-help journal as it’s been an advice column. Going over not just my old column, but over my old features too, is like traveling back in time to converse with a younger me who wasn’t as sharp or experienced. And I’m fortunate enough to have people such as Helena and Professor DiUlio who noticed my talent and have set me on the track to making writing a core aspect of my career.
Though this is the end of my time at The Whit, I don’t think I’ll ever stop writing. There’s so much more I have to say, even if I don’t know it yet, or if I don’t have the words or the time to say it.
Not many people know this about me, but I want to become a novelist. The BS in Engineering is to put bread on the table, sure, but writing is what I love, what I’m good at and, thanks to my time at the Whit, something I know is worth pursuing.
No words can describe the feeling of discovering something that you were always meant to do. It just feels right, and you know it is.
I owe all of this to the incredible Whit staff, whose tireless hours of work have made all of my efforts possible.
And thank you, the readers, for listening to me ramble this past year. I’ve had the time of my life and I hope my words have helped you do the same.
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