From listening to what other students and my high school teachers said about college, I had established certain expectations. “It’s nice because you meet people that have the same interest as you,” I’d hear from some people. From others: “It doesn’t matter if you commute or not. I had a friend who commuted and would never known that he did not live there the way he got involved with his school.” Starting college, I hoped I would gain more experience, add more to my life—understand what life has to offer—and I did not have to do this alone. I would make like-minded friends.
While I made many acquaintances at Dowling, but the “like-minded” and “friends” parts were less easy to find. I met some students who invited me to the writing club, but I didn’t feel like I could connect with that group. After some encouragement from my theatre professor, I joined the fall musical (Schoolhouse Rock Live!), thinking it would be a way to try something outside my comfort zone. Unfortunately, I found out it was WAY outside my comfort zone. Again, I wasn’t able to connect with the people involved, and I hated performing. It was a disaster; I was an anxiety-ridden hot mess. I went hours without eating and drinking and sweated profusely. I was severely suffering inside—the feeling of collapse from the rattling of fear.
As a largely commuter college, Dowling had few students who stayed on campus after class. Many had work, and others just had no interest in getting involved. All I wanted to do was go to class and go home to eat. I could feel my love of learning dry up as I stood by and watched.
During one meeting of my history class, we were told we would get extra credit if we went to hear veterans speak at an event hosted by the History Club. When we arrived, I realized that my class was the entire audience. Not a single student from outside my group showed up. This broke my heart. WWII vets—people who fought for our country—were sharing their time with us, and the only people willing to show up were there for class credit.
I remember coming home saying to my mother in the kitchen, “I don’t want to settle. I don’t want fear to hold me back from going where I want to go.”
I knew I still wanted to go to Salve Regina, and I also knew I wasn’t ready just yet—but I was ready to start taking steps. If I got my associate’s degree at a nearby school, I could transfer to Salve Regina afterwards. I decided to transfer to Suffolk County Community College in Spring 2012 to be able to start making real progress in my education.