Come on give us one more spark

By Lauren Vaughn

I had this epiphany while I was walking to class the other morning.

Suffering from the common senior ailment of exhaustion and nostalgia, I had a moment. I was thinking about graduation when an exceptionally emotional song came on my iPod (the kind that you still somehow are not tired of, even after having it on repeat for the last nine months, or maybe that’s just me). So this is what I was listening to, and maybe it was the song, the slight chill in the early spring air or the hum of the construction breaching my ear buds, but whatever it was the stars aligned and I just had this resounding “aha” moment.

Lauren Vaughn

It was then that I thought to myself how meaningful all of this is. How important it is that we all make it through high school and that we choose to attend college and make connections; that we share our stories with our roommates and club members, that we learn how to learn from each other.

But if there is anything I have overwhelmingly and (for the most part) unknowingly learned in the last four years, it is the value of education – but not the kind I was worried about regurgitating on blue book exams. Almost without noticing, I’ve learned how to explore and to be driven by passion. I’ve learned to find things out for myself and to know what it feels like to work toward a goal because it is something you genuinely strive for. I’ve learned what it’s like to get invested in a cause and feel like you are working to make a difference.

These lived experiences, like the ones I’ve been so fortunate to have while at the Collegian, and like those moments freshman year when we were reckless because we could be, are important. And I know you all weren’t there nor were you privy to this exact same epiphany I had, so it might read thinner on paper (especially without the song), but I’m telling you – I felt it.

That anthem of a rock tune was playing and I remembered experiences gone by. I felt the frustration of being forced to do busy work in high school, unhappy with a curriculum that wanted us in our seats instead of interacting. I thought about that first week in college where we learned the polar opposite.

In that first week, every person was your friend because you had the luck of living in close proximity. I thought about sharing moments with floor mates that no one else will imagine or remember quite like the person that was standing next to you, friend or not, because you were looking through the same peephole. I thought about my first communications class and the way Professor Yousman shattered everyone’s childhood ideologies. I thought of declaring my major and learning to love learning.

I thought about it all. Now that I sit down to write my senior column, it feels like I’m remembering it all like we will 10 years from now in glossed-over yearbook pages, thumbing through for flickers of images and vague memories of an exceptionally influential professor or an inspiring friend or acquaintance. And I truly feel like, even 10 years from now, I’ll still be learning from it all.

These same experiences of late nights (such, such late nights) at the Collegian, of moments where I break down and the most unlikely of people accept me without judgment for it (I thought that the Collegian’s lacrosse special issue would be the death of me, so sorry Sports), and of those who have seen me change but do not hold my worst moments against me – I thank you for what you’ve taught me. I thank you all, from Collegian people to dorm mates to the Blue Wall staff, for teaching me things I could not learn on my own.

More than anything I think about how all of these people and experiences have taught us invaluable knowledge about ourselves, both who we are and who we want to be. I think about the significance just the landscape of this school has to me, and how it is made meaningful by the individuals who walk it.

So for that I am grateful. I appreciate the privilege and the opportunity to get an education and to study the things I love. I am so very humbled to have read the works and to have spoken with such intelligent minds. To brush so close to genius and those with kind hearts is not something this terrible memory of mine could ever easily forget.

Lauren Vaughn was a Collegian columnist and the paper’s production manager. She can be reached at [email protected]