Goodbye, UIC! Off to the real world I go

Melissa Martinez

“I’m not exactly sure where I’ll end up, but I’ve learned to find comfort in the unknown – it’s much more exciting,” says senior Melissa Martinez, who graduates Friday with a bachelor’s in communication. Photo: Pearl Shin

I find myself frequently explaining why the thought of graduating Friday feels bittersweet. It’s not because I’m not ready to take the next step. It’s because I’m going to miss being part of the institution that has helped shape who I’ve become.

As I reflect on my time here, I’m filled with emotions of gratitude and nostalgia. When I arrived in fall 2011, I never could have imagined all the things I would come to know and the people I would meet.

The Writing Center, in particular, became my second home on campus. I learned a lot about myself through tutoring other students and developed my own writing skills while being exposed to multiple genres and styles of writing. I love writing because I’m always learning something new about it.

The skills I gained at the Writing Center drove me to reach for something more. I completed an internship with Make-A-Wish Illinois in spring 2014 and pursued two more internships the following semester, one with UIC News and the other with the Writing Center. My final semester has been my busiest, but it has also been my favorite.

Because of my internships with UIC News and the Writing Center, I had the opportunity of letting students’ voices be heard, through my words as well as their own.

I also participated in a research study, working alongside Kelly Quinn, clinical assistant professor in communication, and Renae Smith-Ray, researcher specialist in the Institute for Health Research and Policy. This spring I’ll be working as a research specialist until we complete the study.

I never would have encountered these opportunities had it not been for the mentors and friends I gained at UIC.

If you’re a commuter like me, find ways to get involved. How else will you meet all of the beautiful people that make UIC great?

UIC has played a significant role in my life, and I’ll never forget that. I’m not exactly sure where I’ll end up, but I’ve learned to find comfort in the unknown – it’s much more exciting. To every person who I’ve met here: thanks for coming into my life exactly when you did.

Off to the real world I go.

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