I cannot believe I am officially a college graduate.
I remember first visiting Misericordia University during the fall of my senior year. I had toured a handful of other colleges, but none really stood out to me. At the time, I wasn’t ready to leave behind the dozen clubs, sports, and service projects I was involved with, so I was hard to impress when it came to touring new campuses. When I visited Misericordia, though, I experienced an overwhelming sense of something… different, exciting. Something just clicked. I cannot put into words exactly how I felt when I roamed the hallways that day, but I just felt right. I felt at home. I distinctly remember overhearing my mom, who toured campus with me, telling my dad on the phone, “She’s going to end up coming here. I can tell.”
She was right. (Aren’t mothers always right?) Three and a half years and one bachelor’s degree later, I still haven’t lost that feeling of being at home at Misericordia University.
Although my experience as a student ended when I accepted my diploma on December 20, I know what I’ve learned at Misericordia will always stay with me. This diploma reminds me of how far I’ve come and how incredibly far I will go thanks to my education and memories at MU.
I remember my first year at MU vividly because at the time I considered it “my favorite year of school so far.” I moved into my residence hall a week earlier than the rest of the student body as a player on the women’s volleyball team. This initial week of constant athletic conditioning served as my first challenge in college and taught me the importance of dedication, perseverance, teamwork, setting goals, and commitment.
Along with volleyball, first-year orientation gave me a chance to thrive and meet hundreds of students who were in my same boat. At orientation I had the chance to be completely myself while meeting new people, and some of the friends I met my first year are still my closest friends today. It was at orientation that I discovered my true passion of exploring people and advocating the importance of being comfortable with and confident in oneself.
As a result, just one semester into my time at MU, I switched my major from communications and physical therapy to psychology, the degree I hold today.
Despite my initial uncertainty as far as an academic major, I always felt like I mattered here at MU. My professors in every class called me by name, and if I was concerned with homework or a test grade they made time to talk through my issues with me. One of my professors even tutored me personally outside of class to ensure I understood the material. Because I have never once felt like just another face in the crowd here, I’ve taken away the value of making all people feel included, reminding them that they matter.
I can proudly say that I’ve learned important skills both within and outside of classroom walls. I’ve been able to live out our University’s four charisms—mercy, service, justice, and hospitality—through service and spiritual trips to Vermont, New York, and even right down the road from campus to local shelters, hospitals, and retreat centers, and soon I’m heading to Florida and Guyana in South America to serve. My leadership skills have grown not only in the classroom but also during my experience at the Young Mercy Leader conference in Ireland (where the Sisters of Mercy began) as well as in the Student Government Association and Peer Advocates program. Misericordia University has certainly given me room to grow and has equipped me with the confidence that what I am capable of can make a difference.
I saw our University’s first football game, personally welcomed a new University president, and celebrated our 90th anniversary. I’ve worked as a coordinator of first-year student orientation, as a game manager in the athletics department, and as a tutor in the writing center. I co-founded a new club on campus, co-led a campus ministry, served as the stage manager for a play, lived on campus year-round, received a servant-leader scholarship, and made the Dean’s list every semester. I’ve tasted a little bit of everything, and I’m grateful that Misericordia allows me to grow in whatever direction I choose. It’s been a busy, fulfilling few years here at my favorite place, and I wouldn’t trade it for anything.
Now that I’m officially part of Misericordia University’s alumni, I am proud to reflect on my accomplishments as a student and a young professional. When I received my degree, I accepted the terms and conditions of going forth and living out Misericordia’s mission and charisms wherever I may land. Dr. Botzman shook my hand, handed me my diploma, and said, “You’re not going anywhere,” and he’s right. Although my current goal is to work full-time at Misericordia University as I pursue my Master’s degree in Organizational Management, I feel confident and equipped to take on the world.
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About the author: Tori Dziedziak is a December 2015 graduate of Misericordia University with a bachelor's degree in Psychology from Shenandoah, PA.