Students should graduate college with education, not just a piece of paper



Saying goodbye to The University of Alabama was supposed to be easy. The plan was to walk May 4 and be gone at most three days later. In October, this column would have been a quick reflection of my opinions of the University, a few thank you notes and a final good riddance to my life in Tuscaloosa. Now, the thought of this being the last thing I write for The Crimson White and the thought of leaving paralyzes me with fear and sadness.

Everyone has something about his or her college experience that defines it. Whether it’s the goal to make the perfect 4.0 or a job that keeps you from achieving that goal, a specific force drives everyone to graduation. For me, it was The Crimson White. I sat down at my computer to write a story about Guerrilla Theatre four years ago, and I never stopped writing.

My favorite restaurants in town are the ones for which I wrote about their openings. My favorite events I knew about because I previewed them in the Lifestyles section. I even joined a sorority based on an article I wrote about it joining campus. The words that have filled these pages defined my four years here and now they are defining what I’m going to do in the next four years.

A professor this semester told my class that people either leave the University with a piece of paper or an education. She urged us throughout the semester to make sure we fall into the second category.

A piece of paper will help you get a job. Once you land that job, it will serve as a conversation piece. It’s in those conversations about college that you’ll know if you left with an education. They will show you what your experiences taught you about life. They will show you what you learned about the world outside the classroom. Sure there was football and classes, but make sure you can look back on the people and places that made The University of Alabama what it was for you.

I am leaving Alabama with an education thanks to the Office of Student Media and the people who filled it for the last four years. I have to first thank Kelsey and Stephanie for pressuring me to become an editor. I also have to thank Will and Jon for believing in my ability to be managing editor. I can’t thank you four enough for helping me realize what it is I want to do with my life.

To the people who have kept me sane in the office for the last year, I love all of you more than 700 words will allow me to say. To my number one bro, Stephen, thank you for that one really bad time and for every other time you’ve been there. To Elizabeth and Mackenzie, you’re the best family I could ever hope for. To everyone else – Melissa, Lauren, Larsen, Anna and Daniel – thank you for every Thursday, CW trip and all of the dedication to the paper and the friendships it has fostered.

Also, the biggest of thanks to the five people who have heard me say the words “The Crimson White” at least a million times. Josh and Caleb, I can’t believe it’s been so long since Parker Adams. I’ll never forget every football game, midnight movie and that time we bought “Little Rascals” at 3 a.m. To Zoe, I wouldn’t trade the last two years of margaritas and mimosas for anything. Jordin – from being the random girl I was assigned to do a project with to roommates – you made me love Alabama again after my freshmen year, and college would have meant so much less without you by my side. And a final thank you to Eric, without you I know I wouldn’t have survived my last semester. I wouldn’t be here right now if it weren’t for the five of you and your support, I’ll be forever grateful for it.

Thanks to these people and countless others that I’m sorry I couldn’t mention, I’m graduating with an education. Make sure you surround yourself with people who allow you to do the same. Roll Tide, y’all.

Ashley Chaffin was the managing editor of The Crimson White for the 2012-2013 year.

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