Stop me if you have heard this before.

“This place sucks.”

So says the person who spends all his time in his room during the week when not in class, or the girl who goes home or to another school every weekend. The lesson here? Always consider the source.

That also applies when I say that I love John Carroll and I think it is a special place. But unlike those who espouse negativity about their John Carroll “experience”, I have actual experiences to back up my claim.

I can point to meeting the person I married and making the best friends I still have in this world. I can show how my associations with the Carroll News, WJCU, the athletic department, and the alumni office have helped shape and continue to shape my career. I can quantify the courses I took and the people who taught them as life changers — fundamental moments in time where my horizons were expanded considerably. In each of these instances, there is a common thread. Engaging my community made all the difference in how I viewed my world.

My first weekend on campus, when I was still full of self-doubt, I was walking along the quad when two gentlemen sitting on a bench stopped me. It was not until the end of the five-minute conversation that they introduced themselves as Fr. Jerry Sabo and Fr. Casey Bukala. I remember walking away from that short interlude feeling so much better about myself and my surroundings.

I am still here 27 years later.

The fascinating thing is that you never know when a connection will take you to a better destination … Which is why you should never burn the proverbial bridge. A chance meeting led me to be the Sports Editor of the Carroll News. Discussing my career aspirations with my freshman year boss led me to another job on campus – in sports information as a sophomore.
Even a seemingly negative incident, such as when an English professor dressed me down for a lack of commitment to his class, had a profound effect on me. Do not be fooled by thinking that the only measure of one’s collegiate endeavor is what you get out of it. Measure your time here by what you put into it as well.

Open your eyes and ears. Do not ignore the signs in the atrium. Maybe the direction your life is taking changes because you decided to attend that “Backpacks to Briefcases” event. Do not simply toss away what you find in your mailbox. Maybe the words of a speaker will touch your heart and mind in an unexpected way.

There is a misguided sense with all the technology available to us that we are more connected than ever before. True, we are connected in more ways, but the most important type of connection continues to diminish, and that is the actual human one. Dare to break away from the cell phones, the emails, the texts and the tweets. Engage your world.

As a child of the 80’s, I close with a quote from one of the most famous anti-heroes of my generation, Ferris Bueller.
“Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”

I could not agree more.