You have just completed your 300-page autobiography. Please submit page 217.
It felt like the room was filled with every person I had ever met. I laughed as I watched friends from college telling my soon-to-be ex-colleagues all my best stories from Penn. My parents were sitting at a table with high school friends going through old prom photos (which I seemed to have forgotten to burn).
I couldn’t have asked for a better group of people to be at my retirement party, I thought, as I took the stage for the last speech of my professional life.
“It’s been a long ride,” I said into the microphone. “I want to thank you all for being here.
“I wrote about this moment a few decades ago. I was applying to Penn and was writing page 217 of my 300-page autobiography. As an 18 year old, I wrote confidently about a long career as a star international journalist for The New York Times. I talked about the importance of truth and having people in the world who will work tirelessly to uncover it. The entire essay was ambitious to say the least — there’s no such thing as modesty in the application process, after all.
“Reading that essay a couple days ago, I realized that I walked into college so sure of where I was going and yet rather unsure of myself. By the time I graduated, I was sure of myself but unsure of where I was going. Life, as it turns out, is more fun that way.
“To say that college changed me and made me who I am today is overly simple. Life and experience changed me. It took me into a couple different professions and introduced me to people I never would have expected. But it all started at Penn.
“After going through what felt like a million different majors, I ended up finding a passion for political communication and publishing. My professors taught me not to let myself be caught up in a preconceived notion of who I thought I was supposed to be. My friends taught me that only I can decide who I am. My family constantly amazed me with their unwavering support, care and love.
“But nothing changed me the way The Daily Pennsylvanian did. I loved my time at Penn — everything from the classes to the unique students to the incredible City of Brotherly Love made it an unforgettable experience. But the DP defined my Penn experience.
“It taught me to stop trying to plan for everything and instead just expect the unexpected. It showed me what I was capable of and what I should leave to others.
“The people of the DP profoundly changed my life. The editors, the managers, the student staff and the professional staff all amazed me with their dedication and strength. I have done many things in my life and held many jobs, but I still consider being chosen to lead the DP as one of the greatest honors I could receive. It began a life of dedication to public service, in the many forms that can take. It made me a stronger person. And it drastically changed my page 217.
“Decades ago, my page 217 was about a career in international journalism and the importance of the truth. I still believe in those virtues. But the last message I wish to impart from my professional life is a little different. Instead, I guess the thing I have learned, and I started learning it at Penn, is that life is completely unpredictable. And I think it’s better that way.
“That lesson never served me as well as it did on my first job out of college when my
(continued on page 218) Author’s Note: When I applied to Penn, I wrote my retirement speech for my autobiography’s page 217. Today, I rewrote that speech. But if Penn’s taught me anything, it’s that it will change a lot more between now and then.
Juliette Mullin is a College senior from Portland, Ore. She is a former DP executive and managing editor. Her e-mail address is email@example.com. Juliette is hoping to move to Washington, D.C. and pursue a career in political communication.Comments powered by Disqus
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