I rarely struggle to write. I struggle to talk, especially in situations where I’m nervous or don’t know anyone well, but writing has always come easy to me. That said, I’ve been working on this post for the better part of a week and having an awful time coming up with what I wanted to say.

To make a long story as short as possible, the board of trustees at my alma mater, Saint Joseph’s College, recently made the decision to suspend operations at the Rensselaer campus for the 2017-2018 school year due to a dire financial situation. Alumni, faculty, and students are shocked, angry, and upset.

I realize that it’s “just a school”, as a few well-meaning people have pointed out over the last week. But on the other hand, to those of us who had the privilege of being a student there, it’s so much more.

To quote a friend, “It was my Hogwarts.”

My four years there were a life-changing adventure.

In my four years at SJC, I learned to embrace my love of history. I was encouraged in my creativity. I was forced to get over my paralyzing fear of public speaking. I still don’t love it, but I can do it. It was there that I was first encouraged to pursue playing the piano after a music teacher overheard me playing for fun. I eventually took lessons for a few years.

In my experience, the faculty truly cared about the students. When I met one on one with my academic advisor, he took the time to speak into my life, and not just regarding school and classes. We talked hopes and dreams and goals. (Dr. Posey, I did make it to Russia!)

With small class sizes, it was easy to build genuine relationships with teachers. I was the only student in my French class for most of the time I took it. I was invited to dinner at more than one instructor’s house. The band director hosted the whole band at his home for cookouts when we had to stay on campus over fall break because of a football game.  

I made some of the best friends I will ever have during those four years. Through good times and bad, we have stayed connected. They stood by me when I faced a life-threatening illness with prayers, encouragement, care packages and sarcastic memes.

I still have the pen that was used to sign my degree while I stood there and watched. The pen doesn’t write anymore, but I’ll never get rid of it.

SJC is a unique and special place. It was my home for four years. When I go back to campus, it still feels like home. Even if efforts to save it aren’t successful, it will always be home.