In one week, I will be headed back to the happiest place on earth. No, not Disney World. No, this place is less magical, though the way the Chapel looks on a snowy night seems like it’s right out of a picture book. The magic is instead in how this place has helped me to grow and helped me to become the person I am today. In reality, this is one place that at times hasn’t really been all that happy for me, but at the end of the day, when its name crosses my lips, an instant smile spreads across my face, and if you don’t cut me off right away, I will begin rambling about this place before you know what hit you.
Most people outside of Massachusetts have not heard of this small, Catholic school, located in New England’s second largest city of Worcester, MA. Nestled in a picturesque neighborhood that would never give you the impression that you were indeed in a city, Assumption is a hidden gem and often overlooked for just how strong the education one receives from this place can be, as long as one is willing to make it so. Growing up just 20 minutes away from the campus in a small, suburban town, I never imagined that I would end up somewhere so close, yet so different from what I was used to for what many people describe as the best four years of their lives. But as I embarked on my college search, I was surprised to find how perfect it seemed to be for me. It had everything I was looking for.
Over the years, it has captured every part of my heart. It has given me dreams and helped me to achieve. It has granted me irreplaceable friends, bestowed unforgettable memories, and taught me so much more than what is contained in the overpriced textbooks I buy from its bookstore. I am who I am because of each experience I have had within the bounds of its campus. From the Duck Pond to the dangerous shortcut trails, my residence halls to the classrooms I’ve spent hours in, every single part of the campus has made me who I am today.
Next Tuesday will be different. Next Tuesday I will be going back after break for the last time.
I will have student leader training for the last time. I am heading back for second semester of my senior year, and that scares me. What’s more, I will be student teaching, a.k.a. working full time for free and not taking classes. I will be thrust into the real world, while still living with the best roommmates in the world in a gorgeous on-campus apartment that would cost
a fortune if located anywhere else.
I always marvel at how much each semester at this place changes me. The nervous but excited 18-year-old freshman who first set foot in a small, secluded freshman dorm would not recognize the well-rounded and empowered 22-year-old senior who is about to start her life’s goal of teaching. Heck, nevermind the 18-year-old version of me, the 21-year-old junior from last spring would not recognize the 22-year-old senior I am now. It is truly amazing. An old friend who graduated from this same wonderful place two years ago called me today and asked, “Can you believe you’re a second semester senior now?” I laughed and told him that I can’t even handle it, half-joking but half-serious as well. I can’t believe that this journey will soon be over and that I will be moving on to the next chapter.
But when I pack up my bags and empty my room at home for the last time next week, I will do so with so much hope and a determination to make this last one count. Graduating will be scary, but I know that I will be ready for it, personally, professionally, and spiritually. No matter where the next chapter takes me, I know I will always carry Assumption in my heart.