God Bless the Broken Road.

My life, when it comes to college education, has been a roller coaster. If you had asked me at the beginning of my senior year of high school where I planned to attend college, I would have immediately launched into my love-driven soliloquy about Carnegie Mellon. It was a last-minute choice not to apply early decision. Instead, I submitted applications to both Susquehanna University and Carnegie Mellon University, both for Creative Writing. When I got into both, I was faced with a decision that plagued me for quite some time.

It was a lot less difficult to pick when I found out that Carnegie Mellon requires C.W. majors to complete their core studies before even thinking about writing courses. I thought that was a waste of time for the amount of tuition I’d be paying (thanks for all of the invisible financial aid, CMU). I sent my deposit check off to SU, and I believed I had made the greatest decision possible.

I loved SU. I was blissfully happy for maybe three weeks, and then the homesickness hit. And then my cat died a week before the anniversary of my father’s death, and I found myself in the same state of mind I was four years prior to that moment. I lost direction, and I started developing horrible panic attacks in the middle of the night. I’d even have them at home. The worst happened at 3:00 in the morning at SU. It lasted two excruciating hours, and at one point I had completely lost feeling in my fingers. I couldn’t finish out the semester without mentally straining myself to breaking and getting horrible grades, so I took a medical leave of absence with the intention of returning for the spring semester.

The real me was gone for a while when I had come home from SU. I struggled with crushing feelings of failure and regret, and I was constantly afraid of the judgement of others. And, while I can talk about it openly, I still feel some of those emotions about the whole ordeal. I was, however, determined to go back… until I felt the registration deadline bearing down on me. I couldn’t face it, and the deadline passed without anyone saying a word.

I registered instead for an intersession course and several spring semester courses at Lackawanna College. They had a satellite center ten miles from me, so it all seemed very doable. Temporary, but doable. Pride-injuring, but doable.

I remember sitting down with my degree audit and planning what courses I’d take at Lackawanna and what ones I’d take at SU. I had everything planned down to the very last credit. I felt like the plan was going to work. I’m not sure when things started to change, but I know that by mid-January I had decided I’d never go back to SU.¬†This decision was dual-faceted: I didn’t want to be far from home, and I didn’t want to be a Creative Writing major. Teaching! I wanted to be a teacher, and I knew a friend in Marywood’s education program. Marywood… yes, Marywood would be a good fit.

The rest, as they say, is history.

Now, why did I have to go through that journey? I am a firm believer in the mantra “everything happens for a reason,” so I have to believe that each step in this process was necessary.

Why Susquehanna?: I met Stacey, Hope, and Shannon, three people who are absolutely incredible. I found out that, yes, I can live on my own, but I have to sort out some of my demons first. I learned that Creative Writing is something I don’t need to be taught, and that writing critique letters was not a good use of my time. I had to learn there. SU will always be a part of me, and sometimes I miss it, but I now realize why I wasn’t meant to be there.

Why Lackawanna?: Well, first off it was a lesson in patience and learning how to be a student without being social. Mostly, I think I was destined to go to Lackawanna because I was meant to meet Nina, and that’s a good enough reason for me. I needed to be a student, because without working toward something bigger than myself, I fall into feeling useless. Lackawanna saved me from this.

Why Marywood is my fit: I hated Marywood at the beginning. There are still some things about Marywood I dislike, but I’ve really come to realize that I was meant to go here. It rekindled my love for a language that should have always been a part of my life, and if I hadn’t gone to Marywood, I would have been done with language. I love the Spanish component of my major, and it makes me sad to think that I could have missed out on something I love so much.

I love that the departments at Marywood are small and close-knit. Of course, it helps that I’m part of the two best departments in the school (and the most fun, omg). Walking into the English department after a long day feels like home, and wandering around Immaculata is what keeps me going. (I don’t think it’s just a coincidence that my room is right above the Foreign Language department.)

As always, though, it’s about the people. I’m so glad to have met Mike and Kasey; they’ve made this semester so great for me. Mike and I really are the same person, and I do think I was meant to meet him. Our Dora and Diego adventures have been some of the best moments of my life, and I wouldn’t trade that for prestigious, stuffy Carnegie Mellon if I could. I’m grateful to have met two women who serve as real inspirations both academically and personally. These four people have made the journey totally and completely worth it, and if I hadn’t had the long journey, I don’t think I’d appreciate just how wonderful things have been at Marywood. (Oh, yes, there have been dark moments at MU, but they made me stronger and appreciate the good that much more.)

I was meant to take this path, and I was definitely meant to end up at Marywood. Sometimes the path is winding, but we all get to where we’re meant to go in the end.

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