In the end

Katie Roupe

I found out in the ice cream aisle at my local grocery store. I found out that one of my old high school friends died after a horrible incident where she was backed over by a truck. Alissa was a sweet, wonderful, lively girl. We hung out at each others’ houses, went on youth group trips together and played in band together. She once tried to squeeze herself in a mini-fridge to see if she could fit. She was always full of life, and now I’m graduating in a week, and she is dead.

Although this happened more than a year ago, this single incident has stuck with me daily. Her life is a constant reminder to me to live life fully, without regrets. I remember once at youth group, we were lying on the floor talking about our future. I remember saying I couldn’t imagine my future of having a family and being middle-aged. She agreed with me, and we went on to talk about how weird being a real adult would be. It won’t ever happen for her; she’ll never be able to graduate, get a real job or have her own family. But I will.

It makes you wonder why some of us die early and others have years upon years to live. I do know that none of us know when we will die. This has encouraged me to take advantage of my Kent State college life.

I joined the Stater staff as a sophomore photographer full of excitement and passion. Now that I’m graduating, I’m a little more tired; I’ve worked many long nights, and I’ve shot hundreds of photo assignments. But I still have that passion. The people I’ve met (including the awesome photo staff) made my experience memorable and are a constant inspiration.

I surprised myself by joining a sorority. If you know me, you know I’m not that type of girl, but I realized the girls in my sorority weren’t either. They were the ones who were there for me when Alissa died, when I struggled with finding a job, when I had horrible days and when I had amazing days. They were the ones who held me together and the ones I celebrated with. They are my family.

But no matter what I participated in and what I accomplished in college, I feel what matters most is making a difference. One song by Rosie Thomas conveys my own sort of personal mantra: “In the end all that matters is the love you give away.”

I hope I have left this school for the better, that I’ve influenced people in some positive way and that I’ve loved and lived fully. That’s my hope for my whole life: I will have a purpose, and in the end, when I die, I can know I’ve made a difference. I know how much Alissa has influenced me, even through her death, and I hope I can do the same throughout my life.

Katie Roupe is a senior photojournalism major and a photographer for the Daily Kent Stater. Contact her at [email protected]