As I am 5 days away from receiving the Brothers’ Habit, I’ve decided to post a 5 part look into the decisions which have brought me (without my knowing) to this point. Modeled after the famous quote from La Salle, I’ve looked back over my life to pinpoint various decisions where God was working through others and me to eventually bring me to this point. The 5 posts will look at the following parts of my journey:
1: High School Years
2: Manhattan College/Introduction to the Brothers
3: Lasallian Volunteers Program and San Francisco
4: Seton Partners, El Camino, and New York
5: Time in Community at St. Ray’s
I’ve decided to cheat here, because, well, I’m the author, editor, and publisher. The original post I had planned was way too long so I’ve decided to post it in 2 parts. The first part (here), is on my decision to become a Jasper. Tomorrow’s post will better detail the four years at Manhattan and the impact they had on my vocation and discernment.
College, Part 1:
There is something about the autumn of high school in your senior year. The majority of the difficult classes are done. You’re finished with the SATs and all that prep, and your stepping foot on college campuses, trying to decide which one you’ll call home for the next 4 years. Everyone’s path is different. Some people had their college chosen for them. Others were recruited for sports, debate, or academics. Still others are debating whether a 4 year school is best for them. I found myself in no man’s land. No college was calling my home, and I had no clear #1, except for Boston University or Boston College, or a completely different school as long as it was Catholic.
Although I applied to about 9 schools, I only visited 3 with my parents. American University and Catholic University in D.C., and St. Joe’s in Philly. I have 2 memories of the entire ordeal with those 3 colleges. The D.C. trip was with my dad and my sister. My mother was a nervous wreck because it was the same time as the ‘Belt Way Sniper.’ I remember distinctly my father saying “I hope we see him, so I can run him off the road and put an end to this.” As you may have guessed, we did not encounter them during our visit. At St. Joe’s I remember an incredible Philly cheesesteak with pepperoni right across from campus. Obviously, this quickly became my #1 choice.
A few weeks later I received my first (and only) rejection letter, and it was from Boston College. I was crushed, I wanted to be an Eagle. There was something about Boston. There was something about their hockey team. And there was something about that campus that just drew me in. But it wasn’t meant to be. A few days later, I received equally crushing news. Boston University had accepted me, but to a preliminary program (I had applied to their School of Business), and if I did well, after 2 years, the Business School would accept me. I didn’t know what to do.
At that point, my parents kept telling me to ‘apply to Manhattan College.’ A few of our cousins had gone there and had a great experience, but I told them I had no desire to go to a school in the middle of Manhattan. They told me it wasn’t in Manhattan, but in the Bronx. “Liars!” I exclaimed. How could a school not in Manhattan, call itself Manhattan College? I agreed to apply, but that was about all the thought I gave to the matter.
A few weeks later I received word that I had been accepted, and was invited to an accepted student’s day. This event would allow me to miss a day of school, so I was adamant that I would attend. After convincing my parents to let me travel alone on the train and subway, I embarked on a train ride that would begin the wildest ride of my life. I can state, in no uncertain terms, that the decision to become a Jasper would alter the entire course of my life.
I arrived on a sunny day, and any Jasper can tell you that there is nothing like the Quad on a sunny day. After attending a few talks and a few classes, I felt an odd sense of belonging. There was something so familiar, yet so foreign about this place; and I wanted more.
Deciding to become a Jasper was the greatest decision I have ever made. Let me say it again, because it is that matter of fact. Deciding to become a Jasper was the greatest decision I have ever made.
The spirit of La Salle, the charism of the Brothers oozed through the walls, through the green grass, the red brick, and the shining statues. From admissions, to financial aid; from physical plant to the faculty; from the Student Life Staff to the administration, every single person on that campus was Lasallian, before I even knew what that term meant.
I knew that becoming a Jasper was the right decision, and that, as always, my parents knew what was best for me before I knew it. Thanks to a coincidental lunch with Br. Rob Berger, I made the decision to make the most of my 4 years. I had no idea how I would do that, or what it would look like or entail, but I knew I would take his advice (which he regrets) and make some noise on that campus.
Stay tuned tomorrow for part 2 of my college experience and the impact it had on my vocation journey!