Looking Back: Don’t wait to impact community

By Jamie Papapetros

To borrow the words of Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy, “Life is not a matter of milestones, but of moments.” As I sit here penning my final column for The Rider News and reflecting upon the past four years and my journey in life thus far, it is hard to imagine that it’s been almost 15 years — too many moments to count — since I arrived in the United States from Athens, Greece. Then, I only knew six letters of the English alphabet and was half a world away from the only place I knew as home. Today, and for a few more tomorrows, I proudly call Lawrenceville, and Rider University, my home. But, no matter where life takes me and my fellow classmates beyond May 9, I know we will forever carry with us the moments that have defined our experiences inside and outside the classroom.

That being said, my moments here at Rider, and perhaps those of many of my fellow classmates, were guided by a question that Dean of Students Anthony Campbell posed at summer orientation in 2004. He challenged students to predict how we would make difference at Rider. At the time, I could never have forecast all the moments that were yet to come, but I knew Dean Campbell’s edict was the benchmark I wanted to live by as I seized the days of my college career.

Before I even really knew the landscape of the Lawrenceville campus, I came for a two-day community service retreat. Soon after, I hit the airwaves of WRRC 107.7 as a disc jockey and began as a staff writer at The Rider News, expressing my opinions on all things related to politics and Rider. Along the way, I became the Opinion Editor and wrote editorials about some of the most important campus issues of the time that, more often than not, ruffled a few feathers of the University’s top brass. But, my journey is simply a metaphor for the class of 2008, comprising hundreds of graduates who got involved, had an impact that will be felt for years to come, and served as a model for other classes to follow. It’s from my involvement with these organizations that I gained the knowledge and leadership skills I need as I dive headfirst into the real world alongside my peers.

Even though we paid a hefty price for the classes, the lasting moments of college will not come from the lecture we had on REM sleep (even though it should have inspired more of us to get a full night’s rest), an abatement in accounting or the history lesson on post-World War II Russia. Instead, the precious memories anyone can take away will undoubtedly include the relationships we sustained with our professors, who took us under their wings and guided us along the way.

At last, my advice is something you have probably heard before — college is supposed to be the best four years of your life. True, it’s an overused cliché, but there is no better way to describe the college experience. Four years from now, I will look in the rearview mirror and be proud of how I seized my moments at Rider.

So I ask, what will you be able to point to as something you changed or had impact upon? Don’t wait until tomorrow to start making a difference, because before you know it, the band will be tuning up and you will be walking across the stage at commencement.

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