Grote: To my fellow Hawkeyes

BY DORA GROTE | MAY 13, 2015 5:00 AM

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Four years ago, a wide-eyed, small-town girl set foot on the University of Iowa campus without an inkling in her mind of what four years as a Hawkeye would be like.

On Tuesday, that same girl submitted her Honors thesis, took her last college final, walked on to the Pentacrest to take a glimpse of the gleaming Old Capitol, and thought, “Wow, these past four years have been more than I could have ever dreamed of.”

Of course, I’m talking about me — a soon-to-be UI alum. It’s true what they say, you know; time really does go by fast. 

We’ll all gather this Saturday in Carver-Hawkeye Arena to celebrate one thing: the commencement of the class of 2015. Commencement … we all think of it as the end. The end of our time here at Iowa, the capstone to the past four years in which we’ve met our friends for life, fell in love, studied hard, aced an exam, maybe didn’t do so well, and probably didn’t get as much sleep as we should have. 

But commencement isn’t the end. It’s the beginning to the rest of our lives.  We’ve written our introduction, and now its time to start chapter one.

I grew up in a small town, graduated with 26 people, and if you had asked me four years ago if I thought I would take an internship in Washington, D.C., and be headed to New York City after graduation, I would have thought you were crazy. 

I am the youngest of five children — all of my siblings went to Iowa State University — and clearly, I was the smartest of them all: I chose to be a Hawkeye. And it was the best decision of my life. 

I first stepped on campus as a senior in high school, got a tour of the Adler Journalism Building, and what was soon to become my second home: The Daily Iowan. It’s funny how you pick things up and fall in love with them, because my high school didn’t have any journalism classes. 

Like in Alice in Wonderland, I fell down a hole into a whimsical world of Iowa City and the UI. I quickly immersed myself into all things the UI had to offer, especially the DI and DITV, where I found my niche on campus. And I’ve been there for four years now … it’s home. To my newsroom family, from Brothers mug club to scurrying around during election night, thank you for making my job so much fun. The bond we created over the past year is incredible, and I can’t wait to see where you will go. I will never forget the times we laughed together, cried together in an edit bay, and confided in one another. So thank you for making DITV the best it could have been.

From there, I became involved in so many other things — the College Transition program mentoring freshmen, Dance Marathon, several jobs on campus, president of Omicron Delta Kappa — and I made my way to the top of the journalism school, graduating as the top scholar in 2015 — the list goes on.

But I want you to take a moment and reflect back to yourself as a freshman. After you were handed that yellow Hawk shopping bag and wandered aimlessly around campus holding your campus map out in front of you. “Oh freshman,” everyone thinks. But we’ve all been there. 

And now, I see those freshman, yellow bags in hand, and all I can think about is how much I envy them. They have no idea of how much fun they’re going to have, how much they’re going to experience, and how much they’re going to learn in the next four years at the University of Iowa. 
The big campus will soon become their home, and running into people they know will be a regular occurrence. 

At Orientation, we were introduced to the “47 things to do at Iowa list.” I recently read through all of them and found I’ve done 38 out of the 47. No, I haven’t eaten a big turkey leg before a football game or studied abroad.

But, I have Studied on the Pentacrest, Watched Daily Iowan TV, ridden the Cambus, taken a picture with President Sally Mason, celebrated Iowa’s birthday, and participated in the Homecoming parade.

We’ve now reached No. 47. Graduate. And come Saturday, I can finally cross that off my list.

However, the list is not comprehensive. It may be a concrete set of things to do, but the UI has done so much more than that. It doesn’t list “have the feeling of school pride after your basketball team wins in the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2006, or that feeling you have waking up on a Hawkeye football game day. Or the breathtaking feeling of seeing the Old Capitol and Pentacrest swarming with students on that first warm day of spring.”

Being in Iowa City has been magical. Thank you, mom and dad, for letting me be a Hawkeye and believing in me. 

As our time as undergraduate students comes to an end, and we emerge from the rabbit hole, more accomplished, more knowledgeable, more grown up, and well-rounded than when we first entered, and we take all of our experiences forward wherever our future may lead … I’ll always be a Hawkeye at heart. I don’t know how to say goodbye.

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