By Michael Yu, May 16, 2023
I graduate next week. While I knew that the day would come eventually, hearing those words reverberate through my head on yet another sleepless night made me think about how quick everything felt, how sudden those years were. I also think about what I am going to do after, what I will pursue. I lament the loss of my college years due to COVID; I agonize over the decisions I’ve made while at Cal Poly Pomona and the words said in those seemingly meaningless conversations.
I remember taking a seat in Professor Turcotte’s Survey of Mass Communication class, my first ever class at CPP, but all the way in the back because I was so deathly afraid of being noticed. I remember only talking to some high school friends, afraid of meeting new people. I remember stumbling through numerous GE courses, wondering about the purpose of it all.
This feeling of purposelessness was exemplified in my first year. My mothers medical condition that she had been living with for years was worsening making tuition became harder to pay. I felt like I was doing nothing but being a strain on my family. I had no motivation to continue my college education, and I struggled to find a reason to come to campus. Additionally, as soon as I felt like I was making some connections, it was all stripped away by the COVID pandemic as everything went virtual.
The pandemic, like it did to many others, annihilated my college experience. Gone was the in-person communication I craved, replaced by awkward silences filled only by the professor urging others to speak.
It was during this time that I truly felt out of touch with who I am. I would stare at the empty screens of my Zoom class, hoping something would interest me again. I would hope to find a connection with anyone, to not feel so alone anymore. My interests and passions faded, and I felt like a robot with the sole function of attending classes and doing homework. The self-revelations I desperately needed were postponed, much like the entire world was.
As I begrudgingly enrolled in the next semester, I did not have any high hopes. I enrolled with the course roadmap supplied by the university, not knowing what I was going to take besides the course number. I walked into what I only knew as COM 3351 with no expectations, not knowing that it would dominate my remaining college years, as well as be where I could start discovering who I really am.
My time at COM 3351, or the Poly Post, allowed me to grow and flourish. I came into a newsroom full of diverse and incredible people, and for the first time at CPP, I felt encouraged to express myself. I forged friendships with the editors and writers at the time and felt like I truly belonged somewhere.
It was this feeling of belonging that helped me accept my bisexuality, something that I had been scared of since starting college. I was afraid of what my old-fashioned parents would say, what my peers would think. Once I conquered these fears, this acceptance helped me become more comfortable with myself.
This journey of self-discovery doesn’t go away once the class is over, no matter how revelatory or accepting. Whether it be at an orchestra concert or while I am trying to sleep, I am still driving through the long road of self-discovery, but I can now be excited about what I discover.
I have done many things at the Poly Post. I have worked at every level, from a completely new staff writer to the Editor in Chief. I have won awards and published several high-profile stories holding the campus administration accountable; however, the truly important part of this entire experience are the friendships I’ve kindled and the memories I have made.
I will remember taking a seat in Dr. Lie’s Intercultural Communication class, one of my last ever classes at CPP, but in the very front because I am comfortable with myself. I will remember meeting many new and amazing people and always being eager to share moments with them. I will remember being engaged by my communications classes, confident that I have found my purpose.
Thank you to everyone who helped me through college. Thank you to the incredible professors who helped guide me through thick and thin. Thank you to my truly irreplaceable friends who were not only always there for me, but also taught me so much about myself.
Feature image by Lauren Wong
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