It’s hard not to take a moment to reflect on the past four years (or for some of you victory lappers, a bonus year or two) and how much the city of La Crosse has impacted my life. I’m sure many of you in my shoes can attest to the fact that young high school you had absolutely no idea how much your college of choice would influence your future. Fresh out of senior year, I’m sure you (as did I) foresaw your college experience somewhat paralleling what you had seen in movies and ads. You know what I’m talking about, the long lectures with students attentively listening and taking notes on their laptops, pulling all-nighters just to cram for your exam the next morning, and celebrating even harder with friends when the weekend rolled around. Something like Elle Wood’s glorified Law School life mixed with Van Wilder seems like a fitting analogy; especially coming from a young, naïve mindset. You were familiarized with your hometown atmosphere, childhood friends, and were accustomed to the environment your parents or guardians raised you in. Upon moving away to college, you undoubtedly realized your life was about to change; but I can guarantee that you had no idea just how much it was about to transform. With that being said, I felt a reflection and thank you to the city of La Crosse, campus, and everyone who has transformed my life over the past four years was only fitting.
To the city of La Crosse and UW-La Crosse,
Your breathtaking view was the first element that captured my heart during my initial school tour. Perfectly nestled between the Mighty Mississippi and rolling bluffs, campus possessed an unmatched quaintness that I did not feel at any other university. The close proximity of all of the buildings on campus eliminated any worries I held about making long treks to class and diminished the potential of being late as a result of waiting for public transportation (Even though I was late to class my fair share of times anyways. I have Netflix, close friends, viable food breaks, and coffee stops to thank for that). Sorry to my professors for walking in a few minutes late for a handful of classes as a result of stopping to talk to a familiar face en route to your lecture.Thank you to all of the professors I have had throughout my college career. Your unmatched passion and enthusiasm for your area of study are truly inspiring. I am beyond honored to have attended a university that places such a high precedence on its’ educators, curriculum, and relationship formation with students, faculty, and staff.
UW-La Crosse campus, thank you for welcoming me with open arms upon arrival freshman year. As excited, confident, and not nervous as I may have appeared, I would be lying if I said I didn’t feel uneasy and rather emotional at that point in time. For the first time in my 18 years of existence, I was forced out of the environment I was comfortable in. I was sad about parting long-term with my parents, siblings, close friends, and other family members for the first time not knowing if I would return to my hometown. Not to mention the ever-daunting question regarding what I wanted to do with my life and what my intended major and minor were going to be were weighing on my mind. And as blatantly crappy as any freshman dorm experience is, it’s one that everyone needs to experience at some point in their life. Sure there are the negative aspects that result from dorm life like living four arm’s length away from someone you barely know, walking up and down many flights of stairs just to wash your laundry, buying an Ethernet cord to speed up your internet connection (and still receiving the worst connection despite your efforts), wearing flip flops in the communal showers, and minimal privacy…to name a few. Nonetheless, the pros most certainly outweigh the cons. That initial stranger you were thrown into living in close proximity with may in fact have turned out to be one of your closest friends (mine did). Not to mention, living in such close proximity to one another may have taught you to be more organized and respect others’ space. Living in a dorm and with roommates off-campus definitely taught me to appreciate my now spacious apartment and room at home.It also showed me how to adapt to new surroundings, how to problem solve and communicate with others’ who possess opposing views from my own, and to be more open to new adventures and experiences.
With that being said, there are countless memories I have made over my college journey that are sure to stick with me for the rest of my life. A few of my favorites include; soaking up the sun at Pettibone Beach on hot spring and summer days, early morning and late night bluff hikes to take in the scenic beauty of La Crosse, skipping class to day drink with friends, chilly winter walks through Riverside Park to enjoy the Rotary Lights before the Holidays, staying up after bar close until the sun rises just to enjoy the company of close friends and new acquaintances, Pearl Street ice cream stops, late nights spent gallivanting down 3rd street making all the necessary stops (Shooters, Who’s on 3rd, Brothers, Coconut Joe’s) and weekend-long Oktoberfest celebrations with old and new friends.
You will always be considered home in my memory book La Crosse. To all of those underclassmen and incoming freshman at UW-La Crosse, I encourage you to soak up as much of the next few years as you are able to outside of the classroom; in other words, Carpe Diem. La Crosse is a unique, diverse, and beautiful city that is sure to capture your heart as it did mine. There is so much to do and a multitude of influential and compassionate people in the surrounding community that will forever leave a footprint in your heart, if you’re willing to let them take a step into your life.
A PROUD UW-La Crosse Alumni
My college journey has certainly been filled with ups and downs, but it has been a memorable experience I would not change for anything. I don’t even know where to begin to thank all of the professors, employees at UW-La Crosse, individuals in the community, friends, and my family members for their enrichment of my life because I don’t know how to express in words the sincere appreciation I feel. All I can say is thank you from the bottom of my heart for leaving an impressionable mark on my mind and heart. You have all aided in creating a better tomorrow for my future endeavors and I am forever grateful to have you all in my life. I want each and every one of you to know that I could not have gotten to this point in my life without your support and guidance.
Here’s to officially calling myself a “2015 Graduate of the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse.” Best of luck to my fellow graduates in their future endeavors, God bless.