This Thanksgiving, as food is splayed out on tables across America, we will say our prayers and count our blessings for all that has happened in the past year, and for the family and friends that surround us. We’ll dive into piles of food, laugh (or bicker) with family, and merriment will be had by all around. Mashed potatoes, stuffing, gravy, cranberry sauce, and ultimately– the inevitable turkey, the “bird.”
And though I do indeed harbor a fondness for turkey on Thanksgiving, this year, I’m especially grateful for a different bird.
As a senior who will be leaving this campus in a mere six months, the only avian relative I can think about at the moment is one who has composed my identity for three and a half years now: the Hawk.
I don’t want to go all weepy-senior-who-still-has-a-semester-left-to-go on you, but SJU is a pretty special place, with pretty special people– and even pretty special birds.
Thanksgiving is, obviously, a time to measure gratitude and a time to count the blessings that have been reaped upon us in droves. It is a time to gather with family, a time that serves as reflection for all we have– material or not– in this life.
As I am sitting at a kitchen table in Virginia with my extended family, six hours away from SJU, I am reminded of the gratitude I have for my family: to be able to have a warm meal tonight, to sleep in a bed, to have friends who support me and care about me, and to be able to receive a college education.
But I have another family to thank: the one that I’ve formed back at Saint Joe’s.
Though I’ve realized it many, many a time before, I want to stop and take a moment to recognize my own gratitude for SJU in particular, among the multitudes of other blessings in my life. I’d like to appreciate the infinite amount of wisdom, possibilities, people, and opportunities this school has given me, for I surely don’t do it often enough—and my time here is inevitably running out.
I’m grateful for my academic coursework: my English major for teaching me how to read and analyze and understand the human experience; my French major for allowing me to do the same in a different language, and for being a gateway to and immersive study abroad experience. My Faith-Justice Studies minor to academically grapple with questions of Catholic Social Teaching and how to reconcile it with poverty, inequality, violence, education, and so many other issues of injustice. My LEO (Leadership, Ethics, & Organizational Sustainability) minor for showing me ways how these very ethical issues play out in the business world.
I’m grateful for my GEP classes, too, that have broadened me in the liberal arts, giving me a taste of what lies beyond my own major and intellectual dabblings.
I’m grateful for Wolfington Hall, home of Campus Ministry– a building with so many people in it who have supported me, challenged me, accepted me, loved me, and let me grow far beyond any perspectives I’ve had before coming to college.
I’m grateful for three roommates who are always the best people to come home to, cook dinner with, dance with, borrow clothes from—have intellectually stimulating debates with, do yoga with, and so much more.
I’m grateful for my Jesuit education– an exposure to the world that has ripped me apart in the best ways possible. My exposure to those different from me, and who are struggling because of those differences, has torn me to shreds. I have been ripped up and “ruined for life.” My education has permanently rendered me unable to view the world without questions about social justice, and has guided me to live my life in search of building those answers—and I am so, so grateful for it.
I’m grateful for hummus cups in POD stations scattered throughout campus, for teabags in the Writing Center, for the seemingly endless supply of Tony Roni’s found on campus (…and for knowing that excess pizza can be found somewhere out there after a club meeting).
I’m grateful for the Public Safety officers who have driven me home from the library at 2am in the freezing cold, giving me a pep talk for my midterms.
I’m grateful for so many of my professors who care deeply about me as a person— who I am, where I’m going, how I’m doing.
Grateful for basketball games where I’ve lost my voice, cheering on the Hawks.
Grateful for The Writing Center and all who work there– grateful for the encouragement of others’ writing as well as my own, and as my continual stream of puns.
Grateful for the Hawk Hosts who helped me to fall in love here, and grateful to represent my school and do the same for potential students now.
Grateful for the lights at Sweeney Field being on late at night, so I can take a few laps around the track when I need to.
Grateful for the days I see our friends Crimson and Gray on campus, and feel a little bit more lucky than usual.
Grateful for the 7pm Mass, for the Chapel Choir community, for moments where I’ve walked into the chapel and have been met with a few moments of needed peace.
For Ignatian spirituality, opening in me a new way of seeing my faith and my life.
For long walks up and down City Ave, minutes that have let me reflect on long days.
For the ability to study abroad and explore the world—a true classroom without borders. For being in Philadelphia, for feeling that brotherly love and sisterly affection.
For internships that have allowed me to see where I could go after graduation, seamlessly aligning my textbook concepts with professional life.
For the ability to go on several service-immersion trips to the Appalachian region, Ecuador, and (soon!) El Paso, TX—to broaden my worldview and strengthen relationships, reminding me again and again that we are all simply human.
For meeting people at Covenant House (a shelter for homeless youth) through the Almas community of the Faith-Justice Institute—peers who have had such different life experiences than I, but I have learned so much from them.
Grateful for Hawk Wraps, free periods, APEX reveals, Holy Wars, door-holding, the Jesuits, Main Street in Manayunk, retreats, spontaneous city explorations, Campion Christmas dinner, service-learning classes, the Drexel side of the library, Kimey’s breakfast sandwiches, winning Quizzo at Landmark, Summer Scholars, and Lapsley Lane.
Grateful for the first moment I see Barbelin when driving on City Ave, a little heart-flutter that warms me with familiarity.
Grateful for cheerful “hello!”s on my walks to class, grateful for our tight-knit community, grateful for this little corner of the universe where I’ve found my niche and my people.
Gratitude is not a seasonal occurrence—or, at least, it shouldn’t be. It is a continual, microscopic, everyday process that evaluates all that has made us who we are, all that has brought us to this very moment. Today and every day, I’m so deeply and endlessly thankful that my journey has brought me to SJU.
Gratitude is not simply saying “thank you;” gratitude is living it out in every word and every action.
I’m grateful to be here, to be learning, to be living, to be in college—but to specifically be in college here. Saint Joe’s, Hawk Hill… home.
I write this (certainly incomplete) list with a soon-to-be full stomach, but an even fuller heart. SJU, words will never be enough for the depth of my gratitude to express how thankful I am to have been formed here, molded and shaped over the past four years.
Thank you, thank you, thank you.
As always, the hawk will never die—and nor will my gratitude for being a Hawk.