Take a look around you in the dining hall, dorms, classrooms, athletic fields. Who are your close friends right now at age 18? At age 22? Well, I’ve got news for you, chances are good they’ll be a part of your life for years to come.

Since it’s the season of being thankful, I thought I’d write about my closest John Carroll friends. They are group of ladies who I know I will be friends with for life and for whom I am truly grateful. Your college years are such a formative time and you grow up, together, with the people surrounding you. While I was studying at JCU, I knew I had some great friends, but I didn’t really think about the fact these girls would turn into my maid of honor, bridesmaids, godmother to my first born child, or neighbor in the Chicago ‘burbs. Think about your friends’ parents that you went out to dinner with over Parents’ Weekend a couple months ago. They’ll probably be at your wedding or a major life event one day! That was the case for all of us.

At John Carroll, we went to class, sporting events, parties, etc. We thought we were just having a good time, but all the while we were creating a lifelong bond. I’ve made a lot of friends post-college – co-workers, neighbors – but none are quite the same. I think it’s the close proximity on campus, daily interaction, and living under the same roof that really allows you to know each other – the good and the bad.

Since we’re bummed that we don’t get to spend every day together like we did at JCU, a group of five of us make it a point to reconnect for at least one weekend a year. And then, every five years, we plan a destination trip (our 35th birthday jaunt is currently in the works!). And, let’s not forget the JCU reunion weekend – just another time to see each other where it all began! We typically spend the first half of our get-togethers catching up on our current lives and the second half reminiscing about our times at JCU like pretending to study at Grasselli all day Sunday but really socializing, late-night runs to the “Inn Between,” and good times in our Warrensville Center Road houses senior year.

I guess the point of this is, you might not realize it, but you are surrounded by really important people in your life right now – friends or even potential spouses (several of my closest girlfriends married John Carroll guys). And, while the JCU education is outstanding, the professors top notch, and the campus beautiful, it will be these lasting friendships I will be forever thankful for when I look back on my time at Carroll.