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College years better spent taking risks

Over the summer, the Oracle published a special edition for new students. In the issue, I told a few personal stories and some things that have shaped my outlook     on life.

I also suggested that new students enjoy their collegiate years because they will never get them back. I spoke of how I wasted my first three years of college with a boring guy and a monotonous life.

But the one thing I forgot to mention was that it was the Oracle, and my fellow staffers who helped me grow into who I am today.

The social experience I gained from the newsroom — or “The Dungeon” as we affectionately called it — is one that I simply couldn’t have acquired anywhere else.

During the summer, I was confronted with a dilemma. I had one year left to graduate and so only one year to live it up in college.

I promised myself that I wouldn’t live the droning life I’d experienced in previous years, and I mainly kept to that promise. Fortunately, the excitement I enjoyed wasn’t all due to partying. Work consumed the bulk of my time.

This fall, I was promoted to opinion editor. This meant I had a staff to manage and an editorial to write four days a week. As daunting as this sounds, however, it gave me the opportunity to bond more with my fellow editors.

We didn’t have the out-of-state trips like we did during the spring semester, but we had football games to make up for that. We didn’t have an impromptu barbecue outside the Oracle’s offices, but we stopped production for a surprise birthday party. And we didn’t go mattress surfing again, but we sure as heck went swimming in MLK Plaza after midnight.

But, as the semester went on, I came to a realization — I didn’t want to delay my graduation until May anymore. I felt that doing so would be a big waste of time — and money — for the sake of playing catch-up with my social life.

And so, quietly, without my family’s knowledge, I applied for graduation, keeping in mind that if I chickened out, I could back out with no one the wiser. But the few friends that knew spread the word, and anticipation built. 

Graduating, unfortunately, means I have to get a job and pay bills and move out of town.

I’m looking forward to a change of pace, but just as I felt when I moved to Florida, it would be nice if I could take all the people I love with me. To me, it’s never the surroundings but the people who make everything great.

With great sadness and unease, the time has come when I have to say goodbye to the Oracle and my fellow staffers, many of whom have become more like family than friends.

Graduation is not making me panic. My panic stems from the fact that the world as I’ve come to know it is about to come to an end.

As I write my last column, I find myself not ready to leave just yet, but I feel that I’ve learned everything I needed from Tampa.

I hope someone took my advice and swam in the MLK Plaza fountain this semester. And that someone showed up to class at 7 a.m. after going to bed at 5 a.m. because they were out having fun.

My time at the Oracle has given me the best year of my collegiate life. I launched surprise attacks on my co-workers with Hulk fists and Nerf guns. I went to my first football game and played poker for the first time. And, of course, I fell behind on a few class assignments, but who hasn’t? 

As I said in the summer, four years go by fast and I know plenty of students who are having way too much fun in college and don’t want to leave yet. Though ideally you don’t want to be part of USF’s “U Stay Forever” clan, you should make note of what these students are telling you.

When you’re in college, you live shielded from some of the monotonies and tragedies of the real world. This comes to a screeching halt the last day of classes. Maintain a balance, but enjoy your college years as much as possible. They end all too quickly.

Revisiting these moments while writing this, however, didn’t make me as sad as I expected. It just reminded me that my mission was accomplished and that the day my kids come to tell me their college stories, I’ll be able to look back and say, “Yeah, I did that.”

Cynthia Roldan is a senior majoring in mass communications.