Since it’s November and November is the month of thankfulness, I have decided to share what I’m most thankful for, every Thursday of November. The first thing I am thankful for: my school.
My original reasons to attend the University of Portland were selfish. I started out looking only at schools on the East Coast because, simply put, I wanted to escape. I felt trapped in my hometown: trapped by the fog, trapped by its smallness, trapped by its set-in-stone values. I wanted to get away from my family, my friends, and everything previous in my life. I wanted to start over.
As my junior year of high school came to a close, my world was shaken in a way I couldn’t understand. I was suddenly forced to come to terms with the fact that life doesn’t last forever. As I came to terms with this fact, I was supported by my wonderful friends and family, the same people I had previously decided to cast aside. This made me appreciate them more and helped me to realize that I needed to be closer to them. So, I began looking for schools that were close enough to my home that I could go home if I ever needed to without being burdened by the expense of airfare, while still being far enough away that I would discover that new environment I so desperately desired. This is how I found the University of Portland. It took one look at the website to make it my second choice school (my first choice was Oberlin College in Ohio, though it was a reach). Then, when I came for a visit, I realized that not only was it the school for me, but it was home. The University of Portland provides the sense of community support that I needed. I felt honored to have been chosen to join this close community, though being accepted to the school was a long and extraordinarily stressful process. The campus was pretty but completely different from my hometown: there were crosses scattered about the campus, everyone owned bicycles, and the trees all had leaves! I quickly found myself exploring the campus with confidence and I still have that feeling today.
My second reason for choosing the University of Portland is less selfish. The University of Portland will help me serve my community. The University of Portland (students and staff) volunteers more hours each year than any other college of a similar size. There are so many opportunities to volunteer that it seems almost strange not to. I haven’t volunteered as much as I originally intended to because I simply have too many time commitments. Still, I have been serving the community as much as possible. Through the School of Education, I have been visiting a classroom for a minimum of three hours every week (as a requirement for my major in Elementary Education). To do this as a freshman is simply astonishing. I not only observe the teacher as he teaches, but I actually get to work with the students. I get help them when they need it by answering questions, providing feedback, and guiding them in their studies. I do not teach them, I help them, but simply to be able to do this is so incredible and I appreciate it immensely.
So, I am thankful for my school. I am thankful for the fact that it feels like home. I am thankful for the sense of community. I am thankful for the friends that I have made. I am thankful for the lessons I have learned in and out of the classroom. I am thankful for the opportunities the University of Portland has offered me. I am thankful that I was accepted into this school so I could learn the scholastic lessons taught to me in class and the life lessons taught to me through the school’s emphasis on community and service. I am thankful for the chance to be and proud that I am indeed a Pilot.
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