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As graduation approaches, there is one phrase I’m hearing over and over, whether it comes from my fellow graduating seniors or my family: “College went by so quickly.”

I don’t feel this way though. I am grateful that I’ve had the opportunity to savor my time here at Penn and at The Daily Pennsylvanian.

My experience at Penn has not been typical, and nearly each semester has felt like an entire college experience in itself.

I entered Penn as a sheltered Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering student from the suburbs of Pittsburgh. I lived in a Hill College House single, which I decorated entirely in pink. I had never jaywalked. For those of you who know me today, this might be hard to believe.

As time passed, I grew and changed. By Spring Fling of freshman year, you might say I had come out of my shell. By midterms of the first semester of sophomore year, I had decided Engineering wasn’t for me. I saw my switch from Engineering to the College as a fresh start, as if I were a freshman all over again.

And so I entered my next stage of college, as a fun-loving, undecided student. Engineering had given me a newfound appreciation for free time, which I mostly spent on a couch in a friend’s fraternity house.

But this freedom was short-lived. Although I had officially declared a political science major, I soon found my true major — the DP. Enter college experience number three.

In December of junior year, I became the DP’s Assignments Editor, after one semester as a general assignments reporter and one semester covering Greek life, which had mostly been an excuse to meet fraternity boys.

Although I loved all my experiences as Penn, nothing has compared to the year I spent as an editor. While it certainly had its ups and downs, I have never learned as much nor have I felt more a part of the Penn community than during my time at the DP. I easily know more about journalism than I do about political science.

While I’ve met friends that I will never forget, especially in my freshman year hall — and there are quite a few people whom I wish I had met earlier in my Penn career — the DP is where I met my family at Penn.

My last semester at Penn, or life after the DP, has also felt like an entirely different college experience — one in which everything finally came together. I still have the DP, but I also have had the traditional second-semester-senior experience.

I feel lucky that Penn has given me the opportunity to pursue so many different paths. When I decided on a college four years ago, one of the reasons I chose Penn was the flexibility I knew I would have here. Choosing Penn was one of the best decisions my life.

I also feel lucky to have had the opportunity to make an impact on the Penn community that I love so much through my role at the DP.

What I am most grateful for, though, is how long my experience at Penn has felt because of all the experiences I’ve had here.

Dana Vogel, a former Assignments Editor, is a College senior from Pittsburgh, Pa. After graduation, she will work for the Penn Law Journal.

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