Blogger: Emily Johnson
Gratitude. This word keeps reverberating in my thoughts this week. But I am not grateful simply because of the time of year. Instead, in the midst of my senior year and approaching my final semester, I am experiencing a different sense of gratitude. Sure, my parents and sister would love to read how grateful I am for their love and support. And, although this is true, I find myself more and more grateful each day for the spectacular students that surround me at Oxy.
When I decided to come to Oxy, I never realized how much the students around me would shape the person I am becoming. The rhetoric around choosing a college revolves around the school that offers the best classes, best degree, and best ability to get your dream job. (I’m still waiting for that shoe to drop.) But somehow, I was never advised to choose a school with students that I liked, respected, and wanted to emulate. I know this sounds a little cultish, but hear me out. I am not saying that all Oxy students are the same; I think we vary in different and interesting ways. But Oxy students also have something in common. Although it would be easy to reference our ability to think critically, our knack for being involved in one-too-many clubs, or our unconditional love for avocados, I am most grateful for something else we all have in common.
Photo Credit: Mark Campos
I am grateful that Oxy students are aware. Although it may seem obvious that no one desires to surround themselves with oblivious people, I believe my Oxy peers are aware in substantive ways. I am grateful that Oxy students read the news, follow issues important to us, and go one step further by talking about it. I love that “normal” includes walking through the Marketplace at dinnertime and hearing students continuing conversations from class or talking about issues of activism on campus. I love that for us, learning doesn’t end when the lecture stops and when we stop taking notes. We continue conversations and we continue to delve deeper; we don’t shy away from tough topics. For me, this sets Oxy apart from other colleges. And, it would be easy to say Oxy’s active environment comes from attracting a specific type of student, but I don’t think this is the case. Oxy students come from all walks of life so I think it would be naïve to say that there is a specific kind of student that chooses Oxy. Instead, I think our classes, extracurricular involvements, on-campus speakers, and location in Los Angeles give us an opportunity to learn and a platform to speak. Our commitment to social justice creates an atmosphere of awareness and unity.
Today, I am excited by the fact that students continue to challenge each other. Oxy’s campus awareness, this insatiable desire for justice, encourages me with the belief that my peers will continue at the forefront of social education long after we graduate. We are willing to ask the tough questions, whether on a public stage or in a private conversation. This is what makes Oxy feel like home. This is what I am giving thanks for this season.