Yesterday evening, I gathered quarters from my coin jar and walked the four flights of stairs to the basement of my residence hall to do a few loads of laundry. As I placed my last load in one of the washing machines, I realized that instead of inserting five quarters,  I had inserted four quarters and one 25-cent piece courtesy of the Royal Canadian Mint.

Thankfully, I had more quarters in my coin jar. However, this moment showed me something.

  1. First, I learned that next year I really should deposit money onto my CentreBucks account (CentreBucks is a debit card like system for laundry, food, and convenience stores around Danville).
  2. Second, I realized that the school year (this semester especially) has presented many “Canadian Quarter-like” moments.

 

This year has been the busiest year of my life. Admittedly, I took on too much responsibility outside of the classroom and, it can be argued, this school year was the most important as far as getting the grades I want in my major coursework. It’s been a struggle. Despite staying active and eating well-balanced meals, I’ve battled illness more than I normally do. I began the semester with good intentions to follow up great Fall and Centre Terms by giving 100% to each of my classes, extracurricular activities and friends, but my body simply crushed my wishes. I found myself staying up later and procrastinating more. While the quality of my work hasn’t suffered greatly, I’ve been more stressed about getting everything done and I began to question whether I could participate in a million organizations and still be a great student.

Nevertheless, when it seemed that life was laughing at me for a collection of Canadian Quarters, I did not fail…I did not run and hide.

I learned to adapt. That process of adapting, led to a healthy period of reflection.

***

Before I came to Danville on that gorgeous August day in 2010, I made a point to be a person and a student before I attempted to be a member of any organization. There are two reasons for this. One, I take personal pride in the things I do and wish to make a lasting impact on whatever I touch. Two, as was demonstrated in the Stuff Centre Students Don’t Say video, Centre doesn’t let you simply be a joiner…you must be an active participant in class, clubs and in the community.

This is why, after struggling to stay afloat physically, mentally and emotionally, I made the tough decision to resign from positions in two organizations that I felt a) I made an impact on, and b) made an impact on me. When I realized that I had to step down from these positions in order stay healthy academically and physically, I remember thinking that it was the hardest decision I had made in a while. No one likes discontinuing things that they enjoy doing, but it was important for me to realize that my time at Centre would not be spent wisely if I half-heartedly maintained membership in an insane amount of clubs and allowed my work in the classroom to suffer. In the fall, when I spoke with my academic advisor, Dr. Benjamin Knoll, about the many major and minor programs that attracted me, he said, “That’s the good and bad thing about Centre: there are a million great things that you could do, but you have to pick three or four.”

That’s true.

Centre is great because it molds excellent learners and leaders in a myriad of ways. I can’t tell you how awesome it is to be surrounded by friends and classmates that you know, without a shadow of doubt, are going to make the world a better place after they leave the Danville. In the same breath, if we don’t excel academically, then we, as Centre students, are doing a disservice to the very reputation that we seek to defend daily.
I’m not saying that my goal was or is to remove myself from enrollment in all campus organizations. That couldn’t be further from the truth. What I am saying is that by lightening my load a bit, I will be able to enjoy the business of learning and I will be a more efficient (and happy) student, club participant, and friend.

As I spoke with Associate Dean and Director of Residence Life Sarah Scott Hall about how my struggles, she reminded me of something that I think is true and will forever be true at Centre. “Don’t feel like you are obligated to do everything,” she said. “Just because you won’t be in that position doesn’t mean that the job won’t done. That will just give other students an opportunity to step up.”

Every one that I’ve come to lean on at Centre is helpful I that way. They give me the truth and they help me see what the most healthy choice could be. I’m stubborn–and have been since my youth–so it’s been a blessing to find friends and mentors that are willing to be patient with me until I see what they see.

Being able to look at my situation with new eyes lead to a tough decision, but an immediate result of that decision was a rejuvenation of my spirit for doing well at Centre.

On Tuesday night, Centre held its annual Honors Night in Newlin Hall. Honors Night is a school-wide event that presents a chance for students to be awarded for academic, athletic, and character achievements throughout the school year. I had the great fortune of receiving the Richard Stanford Watson, Jr. Memorial Award, but it was seeing my peers be rewarded for their hard work and dedication to the College that reminded me why we work hard inside and outside of the classroom. We work hard because we care. We care about doing well, so we do not simply aim for ‘well-enough.’ We care about the difference’s in hundredths of points. We care about maintaining everything that is great about Centre. We care about each other and what being Centre students represents.

That is why renewing my focus was a hallmark in my journey this year. That is why, as I approach the halfway mark of my Centre career, I opted to make a hard choice.

I have no regrets. Instead, what I have is time to breathe and time to enjoy being a student and a member of the Centre community.

  • Curtis Sr.

    CJ,

    Very well said. Life is about challenges, changes and how we adapt to them. These experiences both make us and mark us. Always know that I see you going, growing and glowing. I am so proud of you.

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