To The JMU Senior Struggling With Nostalgia, It's Only Natural

To The JMU Senior Struggling With Nostalgia, It's Only Natural

We're going to miss everything that makes James Madison James Madison.

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As the second semester of your senior year arrives, you are expressing a lot of emotions; especially being late to class, studying just a little bit less than usual, and so done with general education requirements (consider yourself lucky if you've done all of them). As midterm season begins to peak up soon, seniors start feeling nostalgia and how they wish so much to go back to being a freshman.

Now we are all worrying about going to graduate school or figuring out what career we want, for real this time. Seeing seniors from last year at career fairs and seeing more and more posts on Linkedin from your fellow "colleagues." As we begin the journey of finding a job, we are finishing our last round of attending James Madison University (unless you're going to be a double duke then I am so happy for you).

It was the Tuesday of Assessment Day where my senior nostalgia began for the first time. I was on the quad with my friends sipping on an iced caramel macchiato from Carrier Starbucks (basic, yes I know) enjoying the nice weather outside with our foster puppy. Frisbee's, colorful blankets, and so many JMU students surrounded me. I turned to my friend and said, "a day like today was the reason I chose JMU during my tour here," and then a million memories came over me. How was I supposed to leave the best place on earth in just a short couple of months?

Ever since then I have been trying to really capture the beauty of JMU's campus, despite all of the construction. Sometimes it feels as if time is passing by way too fast. I think every senior can relate to the fact that we are ready to graduate and eager to start a new chapter in our lives but absolutely devasted that we have to leave one of our happiest places.

JMU has brought me challenges, my lifelong friends, my sorority, accomplishments, some of my favorite professors, and the friendliest group of students that someone will ever meet. Seniors: you're going to miss every little thing that makes JMU the way it is. You're going to miss all of the inside jokes that only JMU students and alumni will understand; whether that be how you were so lucky to pet one of the quad cats today or talk to Duke Dog at the football game. Or how you still do not know whether or not to believe if the rumors of the kissing rock are true. Or if you'll ever get to go inside the underground tunnels. Or if you'll come back and get a jack brown's burger again. Every little thing like this rushes through my head when I think about graduating.

You're going to be reminded of the people who were there when you went through your senior capstone or some of your hardest 300-level classes (@COB 300 for me). You're going to look back and wonder how you made it this far.

There were some weeks where I thought that I would never make it through because of all of the work. However, I always struggled with friends/roommates or with groups from class at the library spending long hours there. I always felt like I had somebody to go to at JMU and that's what makes it special. The people there. You may not see it now but after those four years go by; those are the people we are going to remember. The ones who laughed with you, the ones who saw your mental breakdowns in the middle of finals week, and your classmates that turned into friends.

I will remember those who have touched my life in some kind of way and some of you will be my bridesmaids, some of you I am determined to drive to NOVA (Northern Virginia) to go see, and some of you, I may never see again; but the time I've had with every single one of you, I will remember.

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So, You Want To Be A Nurse?

You're going to find that nursing isn't really about the medicine or the assessments. Being a nurse is so much more than anything that you can learn in school. Textbooks can't teach you compassion and no amount of lecture time will teach you what it truly means to be a nurse.

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To the college freshman who just decided on nursing,

I know why you want to be a nurse.

Nurses are important. Nursing seems fun and exciting, and you don't think you'll ever be bored. The media glorifies navy blue scrubs and stethoscopes draped around your neck, and you can't go anywhere without hearing about the guaranteed job placement. You passed AP biology and can name every single bone in the human body. Blood, urine, feces, salvia -- you can handle all of it with a straight face. So, you think that's what being a nurse is all about, right? Wrong.

You can search but you won't find the true meaning of becoming a nurse until you are in the depths of nursing school and the only thing getting you through is knowing that in a few months, you'll be able to sign the letters "BSN" after your name...

You can know every nursing intervention, but you won't find the true meaning of nursing until you sit beside an elderly patient and know that nothing in this world can save her, and all there's left for you to do is hold her hand and keep her comfortable until she dies.

You'll hear that one of our biggest jobs is being an advocate for our patients, but you won't understand until one day, in the middle of your routine physical assessment, you find the hidden, multi-colored bruises on the 3-year-old that won't even look you in the eyes. Your heart will drop to your feet and you'll swear that you will not sleep until you know that he is safe.

You'll learn that we love people when they're vulnerable, but you won't learn that until you have to give a bed bath to the middle-aged man who just had a stroke and can't bathe himself. You'll try to hide how awkward you feel because you're young enough to be his child, but as you try to make him feel as comfortable as possible, you'll learn more about dignity at that moment than some people learn in an entire lifetime.

Every class will teach you about empathy, but you won't truly feel empathy until you have to care for your first prisoner in the hospital. The guards surrounding his room will scare the life out of you, and you'll spend your day knowing that he could've raped, murdered, or hurt people. But, you'll walk into that room, put your fears aside, and remind yourself that he is a human being still, and it's your job to care, regardless of what he did.

Each nurse you meet will beam with pride when they tell you that we've won "Most Trusted Profession" for seventeen years in a row, but you won't feel that trustworthy. In fact, you're going to feel like you know nothing sometimes. But when you have to hold the sobbing, single mother who just received a positive breast cancer diagnosis, you'll feel it. Amid her sobs of wondering what she will do with her kids and how she's ever going to pay for treatment, she will look at you like you have all of the answers that she needs, and you'll learn why we've won that award so many times.

You'll read on Facebook about the nurses who forget to eat and pee during their 12-hour shifts and swear that you won't forget about those things. But one day you'll leave the hospital after an entire shift of trying to get your dying patient to eat anything and you'll realize that you haven't had food since 6:30 A.M. and you, too, will be one of those nurses who put everything else above themselves.

Too often we think of nursing as the medicine and the procedures and the IV pumps. We think of the shots and the bedpans and the baths. We think all the lab values and the blood levels that we have to memorize. We think it's all about the organs and the diseases. We think of the hospitals and the weekends and the holidays that we have to miss.

But, you're going to find that nursing isn't really about the medicine or the assessments. Being a nurse is so much more than anything that you can learn in school. Textbooks can't teach you compassion, and no amount of lecture time will teach you what it truly means to be a nurse.

So, you think you want to be a nurse?

Go for it. Study. Cry. Learn everything. Stay up late. Miss out on things. Give it absolutely everything that you have.

Because I promise you that the decision to dedicate your life to saving others is worth every sleepless night, failed test, or bad day that you're going to encounter during these next four years. Just keep holding on.

Sincerely,

The nursing student with just one year left.

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I May Not Be An Honors Student, But That Doesn't Mean I'm Not A Good Student

Don't judge a book by its cover.

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I have fought long and hard to be noticed in a crowd of people who seem to only be good at college. They get the grades, the friends, and free time. I seem to really struggle to balance all of that on top of battling some pretty bad anxiety and depression. I am here to tell you that if you feel "average" in college, that you are doing great. Greatness isn't one road that leads to all the others; it is many different roads that lead to all successes in life.

I have struggled through school, plain and simple. I haven't always been the best at memorizing facts and grasping concepts the same as a lot of my classmates have. I believe there is such a thing as a "school" person because more often than not, I have seen people just get good grade after good grade while watching them do the minimum for them. For myself, I can put my heart and soul into an assignment and come out with a less than perfect grade.

I am not putting down those who get those good grades but I am instead lifting up those people who try their hardest and come out with mixed results. It is so hard to go through school, more specifically high school and college, and watch your peers get praised for being in any kind of honors program and you have to step to the side. This isn't to say that I have never made A's or B's because most of my grades are those, but I do get C's sometimes and even a D once. I am not perfect and it shows.

It is okay to not be recommended for that honors program or recognized all the time. This doesn't mean that you are any less smart or great of a person than the honors student. It just means that you may learn differently than that student. Never feel ashamed of being different. You are still going to get where they are and you will still be able to follow your own path to greatness. Greatness isn't one road that leads to all the others; it is many different roads that lead to all successes in life.

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