Looking back on my time at Rider, I realize that I am almost unrecognizable from the girl who graduated high school four years ago. She was shy and unsure of what she wanted out of life and found it difficult to talk to new people.
At Rider, I found my voice. I was able to overcome my shyness and get involved on campus. I realized that I could be a leader, that I could be active in standing up for what I believed in and that I could help others do the same. I found my confidence.
I’m lucky to have studied subjects that I’m passionate about, met teachers who have inspired me and made lasting friendships with some remarkable people. From that wonderful floor in Ziegler freshman year, where everyone’s doors were always open, to having an apartment in Poyda senior year with my amazing roommate; from being an office assistant in Conover to copy editing for The Rider News; from lounging on the grass in the spring to making 2 a.m. runs to Denny’s with friends; from taking minutes at Writer’s Block meetings to running the Gay-Straight Alliance Variety Show, the list goes on. There have been hardships as well, such as juggling drama and stress while trying to help my family through hard times. But in the end, I value all of my experiences for shaping me into who I am.
For those of us graduating, many are probably feeling some dread from trying to find a job in this recession. It’s difficult to remain optimistic when so many companies are shutting down around us and the threat of paying back student loans is looming. I’ve had friends, family and even complete strangers say to me, “You’re graduating now? That’s unfortunate.”
But I think about my grandmother, who graduated high school near the end of the Great Depression. I recently found her yearbook, which had photographs of the clubs at her school. One was called the Banking Club. It was a group of young people who presumably spent most of their time discussing finances and preparing to enter the glamorous world of banking. Now, consider being a member of this club during that time. The banks were shut down, the stock market crashed and there was mass unemployment. But what struck me was the caption under the picture. It stated that the members of this club recognized the economy was not in the best place, but they expected that when everything was in better shape and the banks were up and running again, they would be ready.
That optimism is something I think we all need right now. We may not face ideal circumstances as we head out into the world, but we have what we need to really make something of our lives. I am confident that I am ready to face what will come, no matter the struggle, and I will always be grateful for what my experiences at Rider have taught me.
Robin Barletta was a Copy Editor for The Rider News.