Phil Zimmerly is originally from DuBois, Pa. where he attended DuBois Central Catholic. After graduating from Gannon with an English degree in 2005, he studied at the University of Alabama School of Law. Currently, Phil is a law clerk to United States District Court Chief Judge Yvette Kane.

Just about to start your college career? Make a college “bucket list.”

If you’re unfamiliar with the phrase made popular by the film starring Morgan Freeman and Jack Nicholson, it refers to a list of things to do before you “kick the bucket.”

In full disclosure, I didn’t actually sit down and make a list before I started at Gannon. But I encourage Gannon students to think about making one for the four years they’ll spend there.

Read on for a few ideas from my list…

Take a stand. Author Laurel Thatcher Ulrich once wrote that, “Well-behaved women seldom make history.” The same could be said of overly well-behaved college students. If you aren’t stepping on a few well-placed toes in your four years, you are wasting an opportunity to make a difference.

Make peace. To paraphrase St. Paul, true faith is one that seeks to care for orphans and widows. The Erie community — not unlike every community — needs young people to take an interest and take action. That could mean tutoring at a local school, helping local non-profits on GIVE Day or an even deeper commitment to service.

Dance. Not that I’m any good at it. But I have some great memories of the times I tried to.

Check out Phil with one of his "looks" back in college.

Try a new look. I had a few. Hippie, Corporate, Gym Rat, Normal. You should have at least one that makes you look back and think, “Seriously?”

Start something new. For me it was a leadership series put on by student government for clubs and organizations. The series saw limited success, but the experience of putting it together taught me about (surprise, surprise) leadership.

Stay grounded. Some of my best Gannon memories are of everyday routines: afternoons of playing basketball at the Carnival Athletic Pavilion, sneaking into the chapel to play the piano and calling my parents on Sunday nights.

Win an intramural champion T-Shirt. This was the one on my bucket list that got away. I played in several intramural championship games, yet never came away with the victory T-Shirt. Cue Robin Williams’ whisper from the trophy case scene in “Dead Poet’s Society:” “Win one for me, boys. Win one for me.”

I saved the two most important goals for last:

Do your best in class. College is a training ground. You’ll be best positioned for the next step if you can show that you took responsibility for your education and earned the best grades you were capable of.

Examine your faith. Going to a Catholic university without seriously thinking about God is like going to an art museum and forgetting to look at the paintings. Gannon invites you to consider eternal questions. Take advantage of the philosophy and theology classes that Gannon offers, check out a campus ministry ice cream social or see what ecumenical groups like ARK have to offer.

Those are just a few broad ideas from my list. I’d be interested in hearing about the lists you make.

Our alumni are all over the world making a difference in people’s lives. Check out ’08 graduate Miles McFall’s adventures in China.

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