Learning to Love the Cold: My Marquette Experience

By Maureen Cummings — This Saturday marked the 24th annual National Marquette day,  a revised and out-spirited version of Marquette’s spirit day which has been around since the 1960’s according to the National Marquette Day website.

The social media buzz working in coordination with the gold and blue décor spread around campus has made me reflective. I’ve found myself pondering what Marquette means to me, just one year into my college journey.

marquette-alumni-club-of-houston-national-marquette-day-viewing-party

After transferring from a school in the heart of Tennessee to the artic tundra wind tunnel that is Milwaukee I definitely had my moment of, “What have I done?”

It took less than a month for me to realize that my rash decision to choose Marquette as the escape from my less-than-perfect first choice college turned out to haphazardly be one of the best decisions I have ever made.

The legends of the brutal winters were enough to deter me from looking into this school back when I was in high school, but this week on my walks to class in “feels like” negative twenty six degree weather I distracted myself from the numbness of my face by listing off all I didn’t realize I was looking for- until I found it here at Marquette.

Founded in an urban setting and on Jesuit ideals, Marquette’s mission and values align with ones of my own. I can’t ignore how much I appreciate going to a school with an entire major city at my finger tips, or a university that holds so much school spirit that is not completely dependent on the record of our basketball team, rather it’s developed through a study body who genuinely has pride for the school we attend.

Of course these aspects build up the atmosphere to something special, but the true reason it took less than a month for me to find my home here was the community. I’ve found Marquette to be a diverse set of minds with likeminded hearts. From service work to the classroom and beyond into the classrooms of several different schools throughout Milwaukee, I have seen the way that this education is already giving me the tools to go where my heart has always wanted.

January of last year I felt my college days were destined to be an obligatory march to a degree, but at least this time I’ll be closer to home. By February, I was realizing my college years would hold new lessons each day, and perhaps these days could already be going by too fast.

This was nearly a tectonic shift in my own ideologies, and this thought led me to one of my favorite Mark Twain quotes. “The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why.” I feel the same way about my education. The two most important school days were not when I learned to read or count, but the day I started to value my education, and the day I found out why. I was raised to value my education so that happened early on, and I thought I knew why but that wasn’t until much later.

I understood the value of my education when I arrived at Marquette and spent my first semester learning that it had so much less to do with what information my brain can absorb and so much more to do with what I was capable of doing with that.

I could rant and rave about Marquette, as I have done, but it’s less about this school and more about higher education as a whole. The self-expansion that college allows for and the opportunity to find a school or community within that which meets the individual needs of a student’s personal and academic goals is a truly unique facet of higher education.

Every student that will one day enter my classroom will see my Marquette pennant on the wall; however, I’m not hoping to send them all off here one day. I do hope to share with my students why I decided to value my education. More importantly, I hope to bring my students to value their own.

Conversations about going off to school seem to always be about the fundamentally important things- GPA, scholarships, majors offered, geographic location, but they need not end there- and they need not wait to start in high school. I have so many positive things to say about the school I went to prior to my time at Marquette, but the person I wanted to become was not where I was going there. Teachers and students need to be having these conversations about our now classrooms- and our future ones. It’s time to ask students how they want to value their education and who they want to their education to help them become, and it’s always time to tell students why we value ours and to show them who it helped us become.

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