I once heard a friend explain that there are two types of tea drinkers in the world; there are people who dip their tea bag a few times, then take it out, and those who drop their tea bag in, letting the water soak up all of the flavor possible. I have recently come to realize that I am the latter. Not only as a passionate tea drinker, but a person.
I originally signed up at Elgin Community College to take a few music classes to prepare me for a Worship Arts program that I wanted to move to right after High School. However, after taking my first class, I knew I had more here to “soak up” before moving along. So here I am, a few years later, finally preparing to take my tea bag out.
My time at ECC has truly been life changing. After my decision to stick around longer, I threw myself in everything that I could. I joined clubs, went to events, and even worked here in the Student Life and First Year Programs Office, as a Spartan Leader and Peer Leader. The friendships I have formed, teachers I have learned from, and experiences I have had here have been so much more helpful to the person I am still growing into, than if I had rushed off after my first semester here.
Deciding to stay here longer to get my associates degree is one of the decisions in my life that I am most thankful for. However, it did come with its challenges. Like every college student, I have had to learn lessons of balance, discipline, focus, and commitment. While learning those lesson, about half way through my time here, my mother was diagnosed with cancer. After pushing through that spring semester, working and helping my mom through recovery, I had to put school on hold. I wasn’t sure what my future would look like after that with fears of never being able to finish school running through my mind. Something I’ll always be thankful for is that aside from the support of friends and family, the faculty and staff here at ECC were so supportive.
After a year and a half I was able to come back to school full time to finish my last year. The beautiful thing about graduating this semester, is that it not only marks the struggles that I have been able to overcome to reach graduation, but it marks my mother’s recovery and health. We are winners of both of our battles and I could not be more thankful for such an inspiration.
I would like to encourage any senior who wisely chooses Elgin Community College to take advantage of everything this place has to offer. If you allow yourself to fully jump in and linger, I promise you will learn things and be inspired far beyond what you could imagine.
- Atoy Spates, Elgin