To My Relatives:
My freshman year at Kent was riddled with change. Everything I did and sought to do was a distinct reflection of my personal pursuit to find the true “Emma.” I asked myself a lot of questions along the way. Who was I? What specifically did I see myself doing with a journalism degree? What spaces and people did I envision my words and characters falling in line with?
Initially, I found myself making a lot of excuses along the way. My first semester felt like a trial run. I was too worried about rejection and failure to apply or attempt to have a hand in student media. I found myself avoiding risks. I even spent the entire first semester sticking to one exact Boar’s Head order without ever changing it up. I took the same routes to and from class each and every day. The idea of riding the Parta buses alone freaked me out and I couldn’t bring myself to do it without a friend.
However, there were a few moments of risk-taking in that first semester that I truly believe helped catapult me to the person I am today: things like applying for and working an on-campus job, joining University Band, changing the kind of cheese I got on my Boar’s Head order and applying to The Burr.
My second semester was truly a blessing. I found my risks paying off. I took a new risk and tackled a new challenge at least once a day. I sought help when it came to my mental health. I tried new sandwich orders and food orders. I took the scenic route everywhere I went, even if it meant waking up considerably earlier to get where I needed to be. The Parta bus became my savior whenever I decided to wear heels for far distances. I changed my style, my attitude, my perspective. If I were to run into anyone I haven’t seen in a particularly long time, I doubt they would recognize the person I have transformed into.
I am so thankful for the incredible friends and people I was blessed to meet and grow close to this year. My heart is warm here in quarantine as I reflect on the people and places that made my first year at Kent so beautiful: the friends I went on food runs with, the beautiful people in student media, the professors I fostered strong connections with and the risk-taking that led me to finding who I really am.
I think deeply. I feel deeply. Words carry heavy meaning within my heart. I can’t talk or write without thinking incredibly deeply about my words beforehand. Perhaps that’s what has led me so strongly to journalism. I’ve had a lot of time to reflect lately on this first year, and the sorrow I felt knowing it was shortened just as I was seeing this “true Emma” emerge.
I’ve read every email. I’ve read every comment. Sometimes texts or voicemails. I saw your faces at my concert. Every little sign or symbol. For a while now, I’ve wrestled with finding the words to describe how I feel. How I’ve felt. And I still can’t do it in a way that feels adequate. I suppose that’s how it goes.
The truth is, I am more than okay. I am not the Emma you knew before. I don’t think I ever will be again. And whether you know it yet or not, that is a beautiful, good thing. Someday I’ll have the courage to write to you more personally. But in this moment, I am wonderfully empowered and feeling stronger than I have ever felt before.
I will close this blog with a few quotes from professors of mine who have put their faith and inspiration in me this year. They have become my mantras and reasons for why I do what I do: “The future needs brilliant minds like yours” and “You’ve got a future in journalism there, kid.”
The New Emma
Emma Andrus is a sophomore journalism student from Olmsted Falls, Ohio, pursuing a minor in public relations. This is her second semester with The Burr. Emma is also a copy editor for The Kent Stater/KentWired. She has been passionate about storytelling and the power of the written word ever since she could read and write, and she is looking forward to having a hand in telling stories with The Burr this fall. When she is not exploring her passion for words, Emma enjoys good pasta, crossing off to-do lists and making and listening to music. You can follow her @EmmaBAndrus on Twitter to keep up with her journalism adventures.