Wait! I’m not ready yet

Mark Robinson

It was nearly midnight on the night of my high school graduation. I knew that I would have to come to grips with the reality of college, but it was something that I had never wanted to even think about. I felt like I was done with school, and couldn’t fathom committing myself to another four years of education. I had heard the stories. Now that I was most likely headed for college, I would be on my own: no parents, no support, limited guidance from professors and most importantly, my faith would die out. I admit I was afraid, and I wasn’t ready to leave. It wasn’t until I opened a small envelope on the kitchen counter that my life would change for the better. I was being awarded a partial scholarship to attend Loyola University New Orleans.

Loyola was a school that I had considered for a while. As a child, I would spend my days exploring the campus of this Jesuit institution without a care in the world. My parents are both alumni, so I already knew it would cost an arm and a leg even with the scholarship. It wasn’t until freshman orientation that I realized what an enlightening, reassuring experience college could ultimately turn out to be. True, there were no parents, mountains of responsibility and days and nights of Cheez-it crackers for the poor souls living on campus, but I slowly began to realize that many of the common misconceptions I held about college were being put to rest. I realized that the professors will guide you and help you discover your niche in life and society. I didn’t expect to be hounded for not signing up for an internship or notified when I missed classes or was even late on various occasions. For a long time, I was taught that professors simply didn’t care about what I did or how I attained my education. They were being paid all the same. Loyola showed me otherwise. It became clear that I couldn’t be more wrong.

While the sense of community and freedom was making my college experience worth while, there still remained the matter of faith. True, Loyola is a Catholic university, but it is a university nonetheless. Somehow I didn’t quite envision my faith in God growing stronger in a college setting. It was something that has been a part of me my whole life, and I wasn’t willing to give that up for the world. Yet, as my junior year came along, my final resistance to college life was broken. It was in a Faith and Science course that would ultimately enhance my faith in God. It was an article by Pat Forseralli that helped me to understand better that God is never truly absent in times of crisis, but he works inwardly through his children to bring heaven on Earth. I learned that science and faith go hand-in-hand in expressing God’s place in the universe and that one cannot truly be understood without the other.

Now that I am nearing the end of my college experience, I find myself feeling a bit overwhelmed and indebted to this community. I have found a home, a calling and a sense of my place in this world. In many ways, I am honestly afraid to embrace the unknown. Graduation means that I would be leaving behind the community of friends and professors who have become an essential part of my life. Suddenly, I am that 18-year-old kid all over again who was afraid to take his next step. It is here that I discovered how to enhance my gifts and use them effectively in a working environment. I stepped on this campus as a stranger some three years ago. I can now say without shame that I don’t want to leave.