Three years ago almost to the day, I was sitting in the admissions office at Roosevelt University.
I was speaking with an admissions counselor, trying to figure out which of my classes from my first year at Bradley would transfer to the downtown Chicago school. I enrolled in classes for the fall 2008 semester that same day.
A week later, after a sort of intervention by a few of my best friends at the time, I decided I wouldn’t actually transfer from the Hilltop. I turned Roosevelt down, even though I for months had wanted nothing more than to get the hell out of Peoria, to get the hell out of what I considered (and to some extent still do) this parking lot of a campus.
I have never once regretted my decision to stay.
In April of my senior year of high school, shortly after submitting my housing and tuition deposits, I started reading the Scout online. One week at the end of April, I read the goodbye columns of the outgoing staff. They struck a chord with me at the time. I was, after all, graduating high school.
I was preparing to leave my parents’ house to start a life of my own. It seemed apt to be reading other peoples’ goodbye columns while getting excited about creating my own college experience, my own college memories.
At the time, I had no idea I’d be writing the same kind of column four years later.
I came into college thinking writing for the school paper would be a cool thing to do. I came to the first meeting in August 2007 with the one friend I came to Bradley with. A week later, I got hired. And I’ve been hooked ever since.
The Scout has been my college experience. From my first front page story (it was the first story about the university’s multi-million dollar lighting project) to my last front page story (about Geno Ford,) it’s been a hell of a ride. It got me an internship at the Journal Star. And it got me a job with Teach For America. I’ve worked on 95 issues of this paper, 48 of those as editor-in-chief.
Four years ago, when I was reading those goodbye columns, I remember wondering what I would write in my own if the time ever came. I remember reading those columns and thinking it odd they were written to such a select group of people. But here I am, realizing I’m writing this column far more for myself than I am for those reading it, but if you didn’t care about my goodbye, you wouldn’t have gotten this far.
To my professors: I’m not lazy. I’m not stupid. That doesn’t mean I didn’t half-ass assignments. It doesn’t mean I didn’t do less for your class than I should have. I just always cared way more about this paper than I did the ones you assigned me. Sorry, and thanks for your patience.
To the university administration: I know we didn’t always see eye to eye. But you should know I’ve always respected you for what you do for this university and its students. I hope it was mutual.
To my friends: Many of you have worked with me. Many of you have worked for me. I know neither is easy, and I know I’m not good at expressing my appreciation for all you’ve done, personally and professionally. Consider this your thanks. For the ones who never had their names appear in this paper’s pages, thanks for letting me complain about those who did have their names appear in this paper’s pages.
This university, my professors, peers and friends have done so much for me. I hope that at least a few times over the last four years, sitting in the Scout office and writing the hundreds of articles and editorials I did, I was able to give something back.
Pat Oldendorf is a senior English major from Lockport. He was the Scout editor in chief and is leaving us to teach children in Mississippi.
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