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It’s time to say goodbye

| Friday, May 15, 2015

It’s time.

I’ve put off this one last contribution to The Observer long enough, unfairly prolonging the Senior Week days of our underclassmen working in the South Dining Hall basement.

It’s a writer’s block in a different way, equal parts not knowing how and not wanting to say these things, a fear of finality that becomes all the more real with each intermittent keystroke.

It’s time to say goodbye.

Goodbye to the most incredible group of people by which I’ve ever been and might ever be surrounded.

In high school, college is hyped up as this four-year objective, the ambiguous endgame of SATs, ACTs, AP exams, guided tours and info sessions. Then you arrive on campus, settle in, make friends and go to class, and college is more than the place you’ll spend “the best four years of your life.” It becomes your life.

Weird as I am, I’ve had those big-picture moments when I try to contextualize what we’re doing here. Tucked away in northwest Indiana, there are 8,477 undergraduate students, plus all the professors, staff and faculty, working toward goals — learning, serving, teaching. I’ve had those moments when I’ve thought I’ll never be around as talented a group of people.

But as the years went on, my thinking changed. I’ll never be around a better group of people. Yes, the talent of everyone here is remarkable. But it’s the overall quality of person that continually strikes me.

An overworked senior who carves out time to send well-wishes to a sick dining-hall worker. An underclassman who organizes uplifting messages and gifts for the family of a student that just lost a parent. A graduate who stays connected and stays available for a local fatherless teenager. A professor who pores over and questions every word in every paper, prompting us to be better. A South Bend elementary school teacher who extends his days with rowdy students so they can receive extra tutoring.

It’s time to say thank you.

Thank you to all these wonderful people and so many more. To my parents and grandparents, who’ve given me the chance to live here and who’ve supported my every move, read my worst articles and remained my loyal (and sometimes only) broadcast listeners. To my sister, who’s always just a phone call away, whether she was living her own college years in Pennsylvania or starting her new life in the working world in Boston.

Thank you to my friends, for an endless dropbox of memories, laughs, smiles, pick-up games at the Rock, late-night conversations of opposite extremes of seriousness and walks to the Grotto. Thanks for the dorm-room radiators, Wednesday night river races, tabletop tears, unending support and understanding (I swear this is my last bit of work for The Observer).

Thank you to my co-workers and professors, and thanks for changing those labels to simply friends. Thanks for the late-night YouTube clips (Cousin Terio, looking at you) in the Observer office and the should-be-out-right-now investigative reporting (Bruno’s Night Blackout, great timing). Thanks for giving me chances, challenging me, questioning me and showing me.

It’s time. And that’s sad. That’s exciting. That’s scary. That’s fulfilling. That’s regrettable. That’s rewarding.

But there’s comfort in knowing these friendships, these memories and these years defy time.

Mike Monaco is graduating with a degree in film, television and theatre, as well as minors in the Gallivan Program in Journalism, Ethics and Democracy and business economics. He will remain a Chiptole addict and proponent of the number 42. He can be reached through jmmonaco.com

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.

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About Mike Monaco

Senior Sports Writer Mike Monaco is a senior majoring in Film, Television and Theatre with a minor in Journalism, Ethics, and Democracy as well as Business Economics. The O’Neill Hall native hails from the Boston area and is an aspiring play-by-play broadcaster.

Contact Mike