Make your own Kent State

Cody Francis

About this time three years ago, I was carrying boxes, bags and other random containers filled with personal belongings up the stairs to the sixth floor of Wright Hall. My mom and sister helped me with the move and eventually left with teary eyes and aching hearts. As upset as I was, I was also excited with the opportunities and adventures that lay before me. I was in college.

Donning my John Belushi “Animal House”-style “COLLEGE” T-shirt, I walked away from my mom’s car and joined my roommate, one of my best friends from high school, in Room 616.

I’m from East Liverpool, Ohio. Typically, our high school sends a lot of graduates to Kent State. Here, most “East Liverpudlians,” as referred to by the natives of the city, have a reputation for hanging out exclusively with other East Liverpudlians. I promised myself I wouldn’t do that. I made my own Kent State.

The first month of my freshman year, I stayed in a stereotypical pack of about four high school friends. After that, I started to talk a bit more with people from class and a lot with people from my dorm. I began a network of friends. Through those friends, I met more friends, and so on. By the end of my first year, there were tons of people writing on my Facebook wall whom nobody from East Liverpool had ever heard of.

I’m still friends with that group of people. I even stay good friends with some of the guys who transferred or dropped out. I’ve lived with people from Wright Hall my entire college experience. But that doesn’t mean I stopped making friends after that.

My network continued to grow through my sophomore year with people from my new dorm, classes, intramural sports leagues, etc. My junior year, I switched my major from biology to newspaper journalism – not the most conventional approach, I know. Once I started working for the Daily Kent Stater, I found an entirely new group of friends who I spent, and still spend, the majority of my time with.

By the end of my junior year, my high school friends, my Wright Hall friends, my sophomore friends and my Stater friends started to intertwine. I now have my own community within the larger university community. I have my own Kent State.

It didn’t have to happen like that, though. I could have hung out in my pod of high school friends, gone home every weekend and hated Kent State just like the majority of East Liverpudlians expected me to do. But I didn’t do that.

My girlfriend went to a small school with a student body of about 2,000. By the time she graduated, she could put a face, a name and probably an interesting fact to just about all of those 2,000 students. I can’t quite do that with the tens of thousands of students here, but I sure can with my Kent State.

Basically, what I’m trying to say is college is what you make it. The people you meet here shape your experience and your life more than you can imagine. Step out of your comfort zone, and make the next four years the best of your life. Knock on your neighbor’s door, attend on-campus events, join student organizations, play intramural sports, go Greek – just do something.

Make your own Kent State. You’ll thank me in four years.

Contact editor Cody Francis at [email protected].