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Growing up and moving on

Katie Peralta | Friday, May 14, 2010

Cliché as it may sound, I still feel like I arrived at Notre Dame just yesterday.
As I wallowed on my bottom bunk in Lewis, I realize now that I sobbed into the phone to my parents not because of the painfully lame Frosh-O or because I didn’t have any friends yet. I was crying because the minute they pulled away from campus, I was no longer just a kid.
“Going back home” would mean buying an expensive plane ticket and that my bedroom would be turned into a de facto guest room. The reality of growing up was finally setting in, and I was not entirely ready to face it.
That feeling of dread at moving up and moving out is once again setting in. It’s strange to think this college life of deadlines, due dates and schedules is coming to a fast end and I feel like I only just started it.
The prospect now of not knowing what the future holds is especially daunting.
Looking back at the past four years, though, I am starting to realize how much I have grown and how ready I am to move on.
I might be graduating without summa cum laude status, a ring on my finger or a job but I am still feeling like much more of a big kid than the wide eyed 19-year-old that I came in as.
And also cliché as it may sound, I owe this feeling to the experience I had here.
Of course the fabulous American Studies faculty I have been privileged to know here (thank you especially professors Ardizzone, Meissner, Doss and Schmuhl) and the courses I’ve taken have contributed to my overall growth. Of course the papers I’ve written, the books I’ve read and the lectures I’ve attended have made me into a more learned and well-rounded individual.
But the experiences I’ve had outside the classroom — from The Observer to studying abroad in Spain to volunteering within the South Bend community — have built me up and made me ready to take on whatever comes next.
I remember toward the beginning of the second semester of my freshman year someone told me I would find my niche by really rethinking what I want and being assertive. On somewhat of a whim, I picked up an Observer, obeyed one of those annoying grey boxes on the bottom of the News section advertising the need for writers and chatted with then-Editor-in-Chief Maddie Hanna.
Having never written for any kind of publication, I couldn’t sleep the night before my first article came out. It’s embarrassing to admit the fact that I was like a kid on Christmas Eve that night, but I somehow knew before it even happened that I was about to start something meaningful.
Throughout sophomore year my friends at the newspaper used to joke that it was kind of ironic that we were actually college students since everything we did in the basement of South Dining Hall (Observer office) seemed to trump our actual schoolwork.
The good ol’ GPA had its ups and downs throughout my Observer career as a result of a number of distractions, revelations and inspirations, but after a year’s hiatus when I was in Europe, I, for some reason or another, decided to come back to the paper senior year, and I’m honestly so glad I did.
So this isn’t meant to be some kind of cheesy shout out at the paper or anything, but I just want to say how grateful I am for this experience.
I’m going to miss so much about college life, but I’m ready now to move on and I’m so grateful for all I’ve been given here.
Good luck, Class of 2010. I’m really glad to call you my family now.

Katie Peralta is graduating with a degree in American Studies and Spanish. She would like to say thank you to her family for all of the love and support and for making it out to South Bend this weekend. A special thank you to the girls of Marion Street as well for a great four years and a good luck to the rest of the senior class.
The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not
necessarily those of The Observer.