In the Fall of 2008 I started my undergraduate career here at WKU in which I took Stacey Gish’s COMM 161 class as a frightened, nervous, and awkward freshman. On the first day of class, she handed us this pencil telling us, “This item is only known as a pencil because someone in the past has named it a ‘pencil’ and everyone else followed suit. For the purposes of this class though, we will now refer to it as a ‘cow’. Items can have similar functions but it is up to our [class] culture to give them a name.” Obviously, this isn’t verbatim, but it was something to that effect.
I reflected on myself that entire semester and decided how I wanted this new culture, WKU, that I was a part of, to define me. Did I want to stay the same as high-school-Felix: quiet, unconfident, and nervous? Or did I want to redefine myself, much like we redefined the pencil?
That class forced me to talk in front of people which I hated; that class forced me to work in groups which I hated. I did not want to be in that class, at all. But more than that, I did not want to be known as the same as I was in the past. I wanted to be more, I wanted people to notice me, I wanted to be heard. I made a deal with myself that once a week I had to strike up a conversation with some random passer-by to become that new person and escape from my shell. I didn’t want to be the “pencil” as everyone else saw me before, I wanted to be the “cow” as WKU would come to see me.
Twelve semesters later, I will be walking in the graduate commencement ceremony Friday with only my thesis standing in the way of finishing my Masters degree. As I was packing up my house this morning to make the move to Columbus, Ohio I came across this “cow” in the bottom of my pencil bag from undergrad and realized everything is coming full circle. It was because of this analogical “cow”, this department, and this university that I was able to be redefined. I was finally known as something different to those who now knew me. My thanks are endless, my heart is full, and my brain is fried (only kidding…maybe). I will miss WKU and everyone in the department, but I will also take with me all the lessons I learned, both academic and social, to help drive my future in the direction that allows me to be happiest.