We are all legacies

Marchaè Grair

Sometimes, I forget why I came to college, and more specifically, why I came to Kent State.

Pursuing a degree during times of a tough economy is not always encouraging, and it is easy to get a defeatist attitude when student loans and a crowded job market are in my near future.

I am a Portage County “lifer,” and I always wonder if I could have experienced more at a larger college, farther away from home.

After a “where is my life going” conversation with my mom, I headed back to the journalism building Monday night to continue my late-night study session.

I turned the corner with my head hanging, wanting to be anywhere but Kent State.

Then, I looked up and saw a light coming toward me.

Make that hundreds of lights.

Alumni, students, faculty and friends marched through campus with candles to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the May 4 shootings.

Some wore leggings, and some walked with canes. Others took pictures while some wiped away tears. Young and old united to remember the price four students paid when protest, passion and violence collided.

Suddenly, a lone moment at Franklin Hall reminded me exactly why I am at Kent State.

Moments like that candlelight vigil remind me education is so much bigger than a framed degree.

Kent State has a rich legacy of advocacy and protecting those who want to fight for personal liberties. When I am swamped with term papers, it is easy to forget the lessons that really matter.

I leave Kent State hoping the advocacy spirit that existed on May 4, 1970, somehow resides in me. I hope I spend my entire life learning about and fighting for something in which I believe.

Kent State may be the reason I spent hundreds in parking tickets, fought with advisers and went thousands of dollars into debt.

But college is also the reason I am proud to be everything I am.

Black. Female. Christian. Gay.

I understand what it means to believe in myself and know that I can never stop learning, or else I have stopped living.

Perhaps that is the legacy that Kent State has on this community, and the legacy Kent State leaves with me.

I spent four years writing columns, hoping someone would read my articles and learn. Or disagree. Or question me.

I was hoping I could learn from myself and from readers as we challenged and engaged each other.

I would never take anything back — though I have been called a crazy liberal, a terrorist and an ignorant college nobody.

Those insults will be the fuel that continues to light my candle. As will the countless professors, friends and family members who support me in all of my endeavors.

Monday night I remembered what it can mean to go to Kent State. To those four students who lost their lives all those years ago, thank you for your sacrifice. Forty years later, you reignited a dwindling flame and I can graduate inspired, with the will to keep inspiring.

Marchaè Grair is a senior electronic media management major. Contact her at [email protected].