May 072012
 
Authors: Erin Udell

It was the fall of 2008, when everybody called me Tuffy and it didn’t occur to me to mind. It was before Barack Obama became president, before Lady Gaga reached international fame, when all I wanted to do was start college and I didn’t think I’d ever find a guy as great as my dad.

For all of you who didn’t notice, yes that was loosely based off of the opening line of the 1987 hit “Dirty Dancing.” And yes, I did tailor it to describe my life four years ago, when I was a freshman just getting started at CSU.

Fast forward to now, and a lot of my life has changed. “Tuffy,” the high school nickname everyone seemed to call me back then, for example, is now just mainly used by family members or in the occasional Facebook wall post.

Obama’s first presidential term is almost up, radio stations aren’t constantly playing back-to-back Lady Gaga songs anymore and the excitement I felt about starting college has now been replaced by the dread I feel knowing that I’m graduating this month.

I still haven’t found a guy as great as my dad, though.

Looking back, I think of everything that’s changed me in the past four years. Everything I’ve experienced starting the second I first stepped on this campus, from the classes I’ve taken to the people I’ve met, has helped shape the person I am today.

And, keeping with my “Dirty Dancing” theme, no thing or one changed me quite as much as Johnny Castle, the seductive dance instructor from the wrong side of the tracks, did. Okay, okay, so I didn’t have a dance instructor, but I did have the Collegian, which is the closest I’ve gotten to a life-changing experience.

From the second I started writing for this paper, I fell in love with it. Serving as an outlet for my passion, the Collegian not only gave me a purpose, it also gave me another home. The newsroom not only became my second apartment, but the paper’s staff became my second family.

The little band of misfits that made up this family has changed me in ways I never imagined they could. My fellow News Editor Matt Miller and I developed telepathic powers. Other editors – Courtney and Colleen – taught me that there’s no problem a good corn dog can’t fix. Columnist Eugene Daniels let me know that there are people who don’t think it’s weird to eat hot wings over a trash can and almost cry during a televised interview between Oprah and Paula Deen.

Greg Mees, our visual managing editor, proved that there are a few men out there who won’t let you down. Heck, Content Managing Editor Allison Sylte even made me climb a mountain once.

Thinking about leaving these people and the CSU campus behind, is enough to keep me up at night (like studying for finals hasn’t already), but I’m prepared. I know it will be a little scary at first, I mean, when Baby originally tried that lift during her and Johnny’s performance at the Sheldrake, things got a little hairy.

But, just like her, I’ll keep going. My professors, co-workers and amazing friends – shout out to Emi, Carolyn and Sarah! – have prepared me for all that lies ahead. I just need to get out in the world and start living my post-collegiate life.

And no matter what happens, I won’t let anyone put me in a corner.
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Feedback for former News Editor Erin Udell can be sent to news@collegian.com.

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