Scrolling Headlines:

UMass tuition set to rise 3-4 percent for 2017-2018 school year -

July 18, 2017

PVTA potential cuts affect UMass and five college students -

July 10, 2017

New director of student broadcast media at UMass this fall -

July 10, 2017

Whose American Dream? -

June 24, 2017

Man who threatened to bomb Coolidge Hall taken into ICE custody -

June 24, 2017

Cale Makar drafted by Colorado Avalanche in first round of 2017 NHL Entry Draft -

June 24, 2017

Conservatives: The Trump experiment is over -

June 17, 2017

UMass basketball lands transfer Kieran Hayward from LSU -

May 18, 2017

UMass basketball’s Donte Clark transferring to Coastal Carolina -

May 17, 2017

Report: Keon Clergeot transfers to UMass basketball program -

May 15, 2017

Despite title-game loss, Meg Colleran’s brilliance in circle was an incredible feat -

May 14, 2017

UMass softball loses in heartbreaker in A-10 title game -

May 14, 2017

Navy sinks UMass women’s lacrosse 23-11 in NCAA tournament second round, ending Minutewomen’s season -

May 14, 2017

UMass softball advances to A-10 Championship game -

May 13, 2017

UMass basketball adds Rutgers transfer Jonathan Laurent -

May 13, 2017

UMass women’s lacrosse gets revenge on Colorado, beat Buffs 13-7 in NCAA Tournament First Round -

May 13, 2017

Meg Colleran dominates as UMass softball tops Saint Joseph’s, advances in A-10 tournament -

May 12, 2017

Rain keeps UMass softball from opening tournament play; Minutewomen earn A-10 honors -

May 11, 2017

Former UMass football wide receiver Tajae Sharpe accused of assault in lawsuit -

May 10, 2017

Justice Gorsuch can save the UMass GEO -

May 10, 2017

An unexpected impact

(Emily Johnson)

My first formal introduction to the Massachusetts Daily Collegian office was in the first week of my freshman year during B.J. Roche’s Journalism Success seminar. My classmates and I traveled to the basement office, where robot-looking humans were face-to-face with old PC computers. I decided in that moment I would take my writing elsewhere.

For this same seminar, we had to write ourselves letters we would open during the spring of our senior year. Although I promised myself I’d wait until graduation, I opened it a few weeks ago.

In the letter, I told myself I didn’t think I could make it as a journalist. “I hope you even make it to graduation four years from now,” was actually what I said.

Meeting my 18-year-old self in a brief letter exchange was a surreal realization. In a knee-jerk reaction, I wanted to tell her a million different things: do not date that person, save your money, start working at the Collegian sooner.

But if there is anything I’ve learned in the latter half of my college career, experiences that happen unexpectedly are the most meaningful. I joined the Collegian on a whim, planning on trying something new.

Nearly six months ago I wrote an opinion piece and was finally able to put into words an experience that has defined my college career.

A year prior, during the fall of my junior year, I was sexually assaulted in Puerto Rico while on a domestic exchange program. In those months between, I was facing daily panic attacks, missing classes and assignments, hallucinating the grimacing eyes of my assailants on strangers and avoiding social interactions with anyone.

Fast-forward to last October, I was opening up to a staff of strangers about my year of fragility and trauma. Writing this piece was a moment of catharsis, a moment of clarity to identify where I was in that moment and where I had been.

Since then, those strangers have become close friends, practically family. And here I am now, a journalist at the Collegian, definitely proving my 18-year-old self wrong, struggling to accept and in fact almost cringing at the fact that four years have come and gone. Both have happened out of my control.

Perhaps we place too much profundity on graduation day, but I appreciate this moment before it is here to examine the last four years and choose what I will take with me to construct some sort of meaning, beyond losing 20 (yes, 20) UCards and totaling my Toyota Camry on University Drive during my time here.

I have learned that meaningful people and experiences enter my life at certain points and then exit. They will exist long after as faded memories, but that means, in turn, more pieces of myself that ultimately become clearer to me.

The Collegian, a 127–year-old institution, will still be here, as will the University of Massachusetts, the dorms and off-campus houses where I have lived, the library where I successfully pulled three all-nighters, the fraternity where I went to my first college party and the hallway in Herter where I puked because I ate too many spicy Cheetos before Spanish class.

New faces will claim the office, the dining commons, the crevices on this campus I’ve considered home, and they too will make it their home. So, in light of this sad farewell, I must take myself to those future unexpected experiences to bring me to my next home.

Emily Johnson can be reached at emilyjohnson@umass.edu.

Comments
2 Responses to “An unexpected impact”
  1. I thought the piece was a bit sophomoric, I have seen much better work from you. I got the impression that you were rushing the piece, to meet a deadline. Not your best work!
    However you are still my favorite writer.
    Love Dad

  2. Maura Johnson says:

    Au contraire! You hit all the right bittersweet notes….
    On to the next adventure!
    So proud of you,
    xox
    Mommy Dearest

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