By Stephanie Mostaccio
As I look back at my time at Rider, one phrase comes to mind: Home is where the heart is.
When I first came here in fall 2004, I was a nervous 18-year-old who didn’t know what to expect at college, a high school graduate who was terrified to leave the comforts of her home. At that point in my life, my heart was in only one place — my home in Glenwood, N.J.
I can clearly remember holding back tears from the moment I scanned my room for the hundredth time to make sure I wasn’t forgetting anything, said goodbye to my pets and drove away from my house. But I was only able to stave off my tears for so long. When it came time to part with my parents, well, let’s just say my emotions got the best of me.
Needless to say, I was homesick for a long time. I remember one of my Freshman Seminar leaders saying that she was homesick for about seven years after she moved away from her family. I thought to myself: Will I be the same way? I initially thought I would be, but I was wrong. As I joined various organizations and became more familiar with the campus community, my feelings of trepidation gradually subsided. One of these organizations was The Rider News.
Working at The Rider News since freshman year, first as a staff writer, then as copy editor, news editor and enterprise reporter, I was able to better familiarize myself with campus happenings and interact with students, faculty, staff and administration. I was also able to meet and work with some very intelligent, talented and friendly individuals — all of whom always made me feel welcome as a member of The Rider News team — something for which I am truly grateful.
In a way, the basement of Ridge House, where the news office is located, became another home for me. In other words, this home also took a small piece of my heart. And I know that is why it was so difficult for me to leave the office last Thursday night, which was my last day as a part of The Rider News staff.
I also know it will be difficult for me to leave Rider. Although I was not too fond of the many sleepless nights and what seemed like endless papers and exams, another piece of my heart belongs to the University.
After all, this was the place that provided me with a precious education, sustenance, shelter and, in the midst of all the work, fun times that became memories I will cherish forever.
My emotions have already started to surface. After I picked up my cap and gown last week — the piece of clothing that makes graduation a reality — I started to cry. In fact, I still cannot look at my cap and gown without having my eyes fill with tears. So to protect myself from my emotions, I shoved these articles of clothing in the back of my drawer and have not looked at them since. However, I know I can’t keep them hidden forever.
Just as I left my home in Glenwood four years ago, it is now time for me to leave my home at Rider. In a few short weeks, I will be scanning my room in Lincoln Hall for things I might be leaving behind, saying all my goodbyes and driving away from the Lawrenceville campus.
The next chapter in my life is still a blank page, which is making those anxious feelings return. But there is one thing that I do know: My experiences at Rider have prepared me for whatever lies ahead.
As I leave the University, a new generation will arrive. I leave all the students who embark on a journey at Rider with these words: Love what you do, and don’t be afraid to give up a piece of your heart. Only then will you feel at home.