ou’re strolling along, minding your own business, then, bam! A realization hits you like a cartoon anvil dropped from a high-rise. Much like falling in love or being unceremoniously thwacked on the head, discovering where your real passion lies can strike when you least expect. For me, it came early. I still vividly remember that third-grade English assignment. We were given a real book jacket and told to write a story that went with the cover. Mine, as I recall, was all teal and indigo with a picture of a submarine diving, surrounded by bubbles. I wrote and rewrote until late at night, more than a dozen pages, twice as much as anyone else in the class, a meandering tale of treasure lost and found. I, of course, was the hero.
“Maybe you’ll grow up to be a writer,” my mother remarked when congratulating me for the shiny gold star.
“Really?” I was incredulous. There was an actual job called “writer?” Sign me up.
It took me a while to get there, with lots of twists and turns, detours and meandering, in part because I believed the naysayers who periodically chimed in to tell me how unrealistic my dream was. But once I gained actual employment at a newspaper and my byline started appearing with some regularity, most of the doom-and-gloom crowd melted away, presumably to find someone else’s dreams to thwart.
One of the most exciting parts of coming to work every day at this university is being surrounded by people who have found their true calling. From philosophers to scientists, athletes to altruists, reformers to artists, USD overflows with smart, focused scholars whose enthusiasm for their own particular passion is infectious, and they have a knack for bringing out the best in one another.
Those of us who have the privilege of coming in contact with our students every day already know that they skew toward the awesome end of the spectrum. Whatever their passion is, they pursue it with boundless gusto and laser-sharp focus, and they have no doubt that their contributions truly can change the world. Neither do I.
In a familiar ritual, yet another graduating class leaves Alcalá Park this spring. The campus will seem quieter (much quieter) and parking spaces will be plentiful (much more plentiful). Yet I know that those of us left behind will have a nagging itch that something vital is missing, a sense that our work isn’t quite real without all those energetic young people, that it’s just not the same without the school year’s bustle and flow. But in truth, even when they’re gone — whether they’ve traded classrooms for courtrooms or switched from locker rooms to board rooms — their legacy echoes throughout the university year after year.
I hope you feel their power, their impact, their energy in every page of this issue, which is built around the theme of students. In a way, telling their stories is the answer to my own question, the one about what I wanted to be when I grew up. I hope we did them justice.
— Julene Snyder, Editor