Sun. Jan 16th, 2022

It would be unfit of me to focus on politics, religion, or social injustices for my very last Quad column. For those of you who haven?t shared the same viewpoints as I do, feel free to rejoice at the notification of my graduation. For those of you who turned to the Forum section first thing when grabbing that weekly issue of the paper, I thank you.I?m actually not quite sure how to end things, but it must be on a positive note, for I would hate to leave a sour taste in your mouths. So if my train of thought seems a bit jumbled, forgive me, for this is a challenging task.

Since the fall of 2000 I have attended this university and I hated it in the beginning. It wasn?t until I found my voice that I found my confidence.

There are always those people in class who have no trouble speaking up and sharing their opinions on issues that are most

quarrelsome; I, however, was not one of them. I sat in the corner or the back of class with my eyes diligently engrossed in my notes beneath me, never raising my hand for fear of ridicule.

Perhaps the most important skill I?ve gained throughout my fourand-a-half years of higher learning is just that: to speak up, no matter the consequences.

Martin Luther King, Jr. once said, “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.” This perspective, to me, is the driving force behind my sometimesloved, sometimes-hated article ideas. Of course there are a few that I regret, but I don?t regret the expression of those ideas.

I?ve had my fair share of negative responses over the past yearand-a-half that I?ve written for the paper, but those negative responses are a constant reminder to me that people read my column because what I have to say interests them and makes them contemplate an attitude other than their own. If I leave here having made no mark, my time

here would have been a waste; however, I?ve obviously made the vast majority of my readers, at the very least, meditate on important issues that should matter in our everyday lives.

We are not immune to the things that happen around the world; as Americans, we came to that realization on Sept. 11, 2001, and are still realizing the consequences of ethnocentrism to this very day. Writing about and discussing these worldly events is the only way to overcome the social stigmas that surround them. There is no right or wrong perspective about certain controversial issues, but the idea that I?ve tried to convey through my writing is that one should not force one?s opinion on another, for that is how we end up in situations such as war. Stand firm in your beliefs, but never try to knock other?s down.

So in just a few short days, I?ll put on my cap and gown and go before a plethora of people who have watched me grow throughout my college career. Some were there from the beginning, and some have just miraculously found their way into my life in the past two months. I?ll receive my fake diploma and be on my merry way to a new career, new living quarters, and a new perspective on what it means to be “educated,” though one is never truly finished learning.

Of course this whole process of “moving on” is a slightly frightening one, but I?m ready for it. I wouldn?t have been ready for this drastic change if I hadn?t found my outlet of expression. In other words, if you?re that quiet, reclusive woman — or man — in the back of class who has constant thoughts running through your head but wouldn?t dare open your mouth and vocally express those thoughts, find your own outlet or you?ll never be ready to venture out onto your prospective career path.And if you?re the type that doesn?t have a problem voicing your opinion in public, the type that thinks of the “quiet ones” as lacking opinions, take a second look: many thought I was the “quiet one,” but look at me now. I?m the most vocal person you?ll ever run into.

Erin Joyce is a senior majoring in communication studies.

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