I was recently asked a simple question as a transition guide for summer orientation that has caused me to reflect. One of my small group members suddenly presented me with a straightforward question: What do you like most about Gannon? I stumbled for a second, as it was hard to choose the one thing that I loved most about the University. I quickly realized that I would never be able to select one aspect. As my small group stared at me, anxiously waiting for a response, I confessed to them that I would never be capable of focusing on a single thing. In order to answer their question, I began talking about some of the first things that came to mind when the question was initially asked.
I talked about the community of acceptance and support that is present on campus. I have never been in a place in my life where I felt I could be more myself. For most of my life, all I wanted was to be someone else, but Gannon has taught me to embrace and love the person that I am. Coming from a small town and graduating in a high school class of less than 50 students, I never experienced much diversity. It was through encountering the differences this year, that I was able to better know myself, and consequently embrace who I am. I learned to listen, understand, and respect people who are from a variety of different backgrounds. While the culture on campus is one of the things I like most, there is still so much more about Gannon that I will be forever grateful for.
I have had multiple experiences of travel throughout the world. I have had the opportunity to explore the streets of Poland for a GIFT (Gannon initiated faculty-led trip) course focused on the holocaust. The trip also allowed us to learn more about Jewish heritage and Polish culture. I was also able to walk on the same ground as millions of Jews once did when we visited Auschwitz. For another class, I interviewed a Bosnian refugee. With the assistance of an interpreter, a few classmates and I were able to hear the story of a man who had lived a life far different from anything we had ever known. Still, we were able to find commonalities and shared interests.
I have also had the chance to travel and meet people domestically while eating in a soup kitchen in Detroit on an ABST (alternative break service trip). The focus of the trip was to work towards creating a more sustainable food source through urban farming. We were able to hear stories from people who were experiencing homelessness and get their perspectives on the city.
There are also simple everyday moments I cherish, like having late night chats with friends in a resident campus minister’s apartment. We would discuss topics of identity, love, and politics in a respectful way where we were able to see different perspectives from one another.
For time’s sake, I was not able to go into detail about all my favorite things about the University. I gave an abridged version of this answer to my group and emphasized that I do not think I will ever be able to choose just one thing I like most about Gannon, as there is so much I love.