This weekend was quite an experience where I had a lot of emotional ups and downs. So, I present to you two posts in one. It’s like that time Limp Bizkit released two videos at once (I think it was “Rollin” and something else that nobody cared about… but hopefully you care about both of these posts). No? Okay, maybe not. Anyway, I’ll start with the good first.
Last night (Saturday) was one of my closest friend’s birthdays. As expected, there was a party and it was huge. Legendary, if you will. At one point in the party, the song “Shipping Up to Boston” by Dropkick Murphys came on–a tradition my crew has had for about the past six months. As we were all jumping around and going crazy, I had a moment of drunk sincerity, and realized how lucky I truly was. I realized right then and there that four years ago, I could not have imagined having a tight knit group of friends like this. After this moment of sincerity, I told myself to stop being a pussy and chug a beer. But in all seriousness, this group was truly incredible. We are truly a close group and a bunch of people that I could trust. Sitting today and reflecting on this, I know that in the past I haven’t had the greatest friends and I have, historically, not been the greatest friend, but with this group, I feel like they have brought the best out in me. It’s something unique that I wish everyone could experience. It’s a shame that in May, many of us will go our separate ways–to New York, California, Miami, Baltimore, D.C., Chicago, etc., etc. In fact, many of us probably won’t ever talk to each other after graduation. I am very aware of this, and how hard it will be to stay in close contact with everyone in my group. I will try my hardest to stay in contact with everyone, but I know this is only a pipe dream. However, I take consolation in the fact that for the past two years, I have had memories to last a lifetime and I will always take that with me and cherish them.
Onto my second post… On Friday, I woke up to a very cryptic e-mail from the College Park Scholars, a living and learning program that I have been in since my acceptance into the University of Maryland. In fact, it had been one of the factors that made my decision of which college to go to easy (that and the high quality basketball program… but we all know how that ended). I became nervous over the e-mail because it was, quite frankly, very unsettling: an e-mail telling us we had a meeting at 2 o’clock and that we should make it our business to be there. I had a terrible feeling I knew what it was, but I immediately called one of my friends and she called one of her friends to find out. Unfortunately, my gut feeling was right: my Scholars advisor, Ken Joseph, unexpectedly passed away of a heart attack.
When I found out I was devastated. I will try to put in words why (it probably won’t be very good but I have a lot of thoughts on this). Ken was such a huge influence on my early years of college. During orientation, he took our pictures and memorized our names, which was quite a surprise when moving in, when he said, “Hey Mike!” (my response to this was, “Who the hell is this guy?”). Well, “this guy” was and will continue to be a great influence on me. When I say Ken was one of the most kind hearted and enthusiastic people I have ever met, I am not exxagerating.
When Ken saw I wasn’t exactly getting into the material in Scholars he and the student representative for my program Media, Self and Society, got me interested and involved in the program by getting me involved in something I liked: sports. He had me be captain of the Media charity softball team. I immediately became more enthusiastic about Scholars and grew a personal relationship with Ken. I remember in the championship game (which we unfortunately lost on the last out), Ken pulled us all in and said (I will never forget this), “I know this game is for charity, but I want to win this FUCKIN’ GAME!” It made us all laugh and get pumped. He then pulled me aside and said, “Do whatever it takes to win.” I was shocked that this guy was competitive enough to want to win a charity tournament so badly. He was as competitive as I was!
Although we didn’t win that championship game, our relationship grew from there. Ken wrote me one of the nicest recommendations I have ever read. I showed it to my parents and I remember my mother jokingly say that this letter finally made her proud of me. It was a shining recommendation. When I reflect on all Ken did for all of us, and more specifically me, I just regret that I took this relationship for granted. I meant to stop in to his office this week, first to buy a Media sweatshirt since I will always support the Media program, and second to thank him for the recommendation and just for everything. Unfortunately, I never got the chance.
When really reflecting on this unfortunate situation, it really has dawned on me that life could change in a second. The quote by a wise man, “A little death makes life more meaningful,” really hits home for me. Reflecting on the past 72 hours, I have seen some of the highest of highs and the lowest of lows. Because of Ken’s untimely death, I reflected a lot on his life and how he affected mine. I realized that things can change instantly and that I shouldn’t take people for granted. I am extremely lucky that I have a healthy and happy family. In addition, I also have the greatest of friends. And for all of this, I am thankful for them and thankful for the impact and continuing impact Ken had and will have on my life.