Op-Eds Opinion

Senior Farewell: Tyler Leahy

Tyler Leahy

Opinions Editor

leahyThis is a farewell. It’s not a farewell about a journey, about how everything happens for a reason, or about some phony lesson learned in a re-run of Friends or How I Met Your Mother. Forget all of that archetypal malarkey that college students validate their undergraduate years with. Instead, I challenge you to look at it for what it really is: four years. At its simplest, college is a four-year time span—but shoot, a lot can occur in 1,461 days. You can’t forget that Leap Day.

No matter how you cut, slice, dice or chop it, four years is a considerable morsel of time. Essentially, it’s a sizeable enough chunk for a lot of positive growth. The best part about it is that the learning doesn’t stop where the education does. If anything, education has provided the tools to keep growing beyond campus life rather than cramming everything you wanted to know into your late teens and early twenties.

Individuality is one of the most rewarding takeaways from my Springfield College experience. I came to Alden Street with a vision, and I’m for the most part leaving without one. As backwards as that is, I didn’t know myself when I arrived. Now I’m blessed with self-awareness—strengths, weaknesses and all that jazz.

Comedian Aziz Ansari puts it best: “Every single person, pretty much, is taught what they’re supposed to do: go to school, get a job, find someone to love, get married, have kids, raise the kids, and then die. Nobody questions that. What if you want to do something different?”

What I have learned is that you don’t need to defy every convention of life to be different, but you do have to use your unique perspective to your advantage.

Do you challenge the status quo?

The people that formulate their own ideas are the ones I gravitate to, and for good reason. As much as sheep mindlessly traveled in herds, the wolf doesn’t have to be a lonely creature. The wolfpack is a group, too. The difference is the wolfpack is a hungry group that takes what it rightfully can.

You can enter a four-year span as a sheep afraid to go anywhere outside the norm. You can leave with sharper teeth and a more self-believing mindset regardless of a direction.

There is also something to be said about getting caught up in the whirlwind of college life. We are all guilty of it, focused on lives of constant deadlines, ever-changing schedules and routines, as well as pressure from family, friends and mentors to ‘be somebody.’

Just in this past year, I’ve learned to step back from the rat race, the whirlwind, the somewhat false reality of a life focused on education. The reality of the experience is this: four years. Four years in which I was thankful to be receiving the collegiate education neither of my parents did—with great support from them and an extensive cast of others.

Beyond that, it was four year spent in good health, which is enough to cherish. In the past five months I have seen a 24-year-old friend succumb to a long battle with cancer. I have seen my 51-year-old father sigh the relief of his five-year remission.  Sometimes you just need to take a moment to enjoy an inhale, an exhale and the beat of a heart.

Four years in the books, and some thanks are in order. Thank you to the Student, for entrusting me to tackle polarizing topics as Opinions Editor this year. It was the most enjoyable responsibility of my time at Springfield College, working with a fine group of individuals.

Thanks to Jim for fighting the good fight. He was the stand-up person we all strive to be, and the kind of person you know you’ll think about every day.

A tip of the cap to Dad, whose personal growth in my lifetime has been inspiring. It’s scary how much of me is a spitting image of my dad, but I suppose that’s a damn good thing.  A tip of the cap to mom is in order, too. Without support from both parents, my receiving a private education simply wouldn’t be possible.

Thank you to faculty members in the Communications/Sports Journalism and English departments that put up with my unorthodox habits as a student. Never have I met a more gracious and welcoming group of people. Special thanks to professors Marty Dobrow, Rebecca Lartigue and Kyle Belanger—all of whom instilled significant confidence in my abilities before I was willing to accept them myself. This trio also dedicated a ridiculous amount of their own time to extend a helping hand to me, and I know I am not the only student to receive this treatment.

Special gratitude to my former cross country and track teammates for letting me take up roster space spanning  a handful of seasons while forming some lifetime bonds. I will never be able to touch my toes, and you might never see me nervously vomit before an 8-kilometer in the woods again. Now that I’m gone from the competitive running world, my abdominal muscles are too. Still, the raucous memories will never fade.

Utmost appreciation is due for the beating-heart-boy himself, my half-brother Brandon, for being the sunshine to anyone’s overcast day. Your support is like no other. You are my constant reminder that life is a happy affair. You play the cards you are dealt, and have a hell of a time doing it.

Last but not least, thank you to anyone that has ever critiqued or praised my writing. Whether it has been creative or journalistic work, input from colleagues and faculty members remains entirely invaluable. While the praise is always shocking, it isn’t forgotten.

Good luck to whoever will be occupying page two of the Student in the coming year. You have some shoes to fill, but they’re not the biggest pair ever. I wear a size-11 sneaker.

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