Today is the first day of this summer’s Destination Kent State, a program held at Kent State University for all incoming freshman. It’s here for the students to become familiar with their new home away from home, to get an idea of what Kent is all about and maybe make some new friends in the process. These students have most likely already visited Kent, but this time they get their first overnight stay in a dorm room and their first academic advising appointment. Most have a parent or two that attend with them, but they sleep in separate areas. The DKS students have a roommate, whom they may or may not like, and get to experience the joy that is residence hall bathrooms. They are abuzz with excitement, as they should be. I know I was.
I was walking into work when I saw the first horde of DKS students heading to dinner, and I am sad to say that my initial reaction was to be annoyed. I don’t know if it’s just because I’ve grown to like the emptiness of Kent during the summer or if it’s a result of my senior status, but I couldn’t help letting out a long, audible sigh. I was in that position not too long ago – it seems like a lifetime, but it was only three summers before this one – and for a moment, that was lost on me.
Now that I’m thinking about it, though, I’m really happy for those kids. Bad things will happen to them, some of them may drop out, but a lot of great things will happen too and their lives will truly be changed by this school. I don’t want to get into it too much (I’ll save that for graduation), but being here has shaped me in ways that I never would have imagined. I’m definitely not done growing as an individual, but I am much more myself now than I ever have been, and I owe a lot of that to Kent. Sure, people may make fun of us from time to time and chant the good old “Kent read, Kent write, Kent State,” but if a person cares enough to try, Kent can offer a life-changing experience.
To all of those DKS students, I hope you remain excited and count down the days until classes start. It won’t always be easy, it will sometimes be brutal, but it’s pretty damn worth it.