Joe O’Connell – Reflecting on four years of growth and learning

As much as I’d like to go out in a blaze of glory throwing up double freedom rockets, I think it’s apropos to do a little reflecting first.

I visited Trinity University a week and a half before the deadline to pick a college. Up until that point I had been pretty blasé about deciding where I wanted to go. College seemed like some far off destination that I could barely see over the horizon and so I put off the decision as long as possible. At best I was lazy when it came to looking at schools or even thinking about where to go. I simply had no conviction when it came to college. All of the schools I applied sounded great and I was under the impression that I would be just fine with any of my choices.

When I visited Trinity, I finally realized what the right thing felt like. It felt like home, like a place where I belonged. I found conviction. I found a place where I knew I could grow and succeed, a place where it felt like there was no other beside it.

Such strong feelings and conviction were my compass throughout my time at Trinity. Whether it came to choosing to be an economics major after David MacPherson’s Principles of Microeconomics class, pursuing a minor in music, joining the Trinitonian staff or joining a fraternity and becoming president, I knew I was doing the right thing because I felt the same as when I set foot on Trinity’s campus. It was who I was meant to be.

To you younger students out there, I advise you to do the same. Decide what to be and go be it. College is no place to be 100 percent practical all the time. Do what feels right; don’t do something you’re heart isn’t in. Open yourself up to new opportunities and have the courage to follow through.

There are so many people that have influenced me to do what feels right and etched that philosophy indelibly in me. To all who have made me who I am today I cannot thank you enough.

Thank you to my family. Mom and Dad, you’ve always been so supportive of me even when I’ve felt like a terrible son. There isn’t enough space in this entire issue for all the gratitude you deserve. Dad, thank you for nerding out with me over economics and maps and continuing to mail me newspaper clippings about law school statistics and local Dallas news. Mom, thank you for your sense of humor and your awesome career advice. “Get a job or you’re coming home.” Katie and Kellie, I am so proud of both of you and I know that you will continue to make me proud.

Thank you to the men of Pi Kappa Alpha. It was truly an honor to serve as your leader. Never have I felt so fulfilled. Although I was a little late to the party, joining the Fraternity was easily the best decision I’ve made during my four years here. You were the best brothers a guy could ask for and I can’t imagine my life not knowing all of you. You taught me respect, the value of hard work and character. Thank you to the founders of this chapter who allowed me to stand on the shoulders of giants and see over the horizon. Thank you to Maduka Ogba, friend, brother and living legend, for redefining for me what it meant to be involved and outgoing. Thank you to Tim Conner for being a role model. You constantly make me proud to call you my brother. Thank you to Eric Schluter for reminding me day in and day out what kindness, humility and grace are. There’s no one better to continue my legacy.

Thank you to the Trinitonian staff. I have no idea what the hell an economics major is doing stressing over page layouts, ledes and headlines, but I do know my four years spent in Campus Publications have left me with some of my greatest memories. Thank you for laughing at my stupid jokes on late Thursday nights. Thank you Trinitonian for showing me the depth and breadth of Trinity and its students. Brian Westfall, you’re the worst.

To the girl who I meet at a Pike party freshman year. Tanya? Tammie? Tommie. Thank you for making my senior year so amazing. I wouldn’t have had it any other way.

Thank you Trinity students for being awesome. I love this university because of its amazing students. Let’s all hang out some time. Drinks on me.

Joe O’Connell is graduating with a degree in economics. He is former president of Pi Kappa Alpha and the Pulse editor of the Trinitonian.