Editor reflects on life lessons

Nathan Mills, Sports Editor

Nathan Mills, Sports Editor

Nathan Mills, Sports Editor

The degree I’ll receive in about a week will probably turn out to be my most prized possession. That’s certainly no surprise to you because you know my history.

I was born into a family where education was never important. Nobody in the family ever went to college. Hell, none of them finished high school. Circumstances drew them elsewhere.

There are no hard feelings from me on that. They did what they had to do. But they decided the cycle ended with me.

I was never pushed to get straight As or be perfect in anything, and as such, I’d never push you to do the same. They always just told me to try, so I did.

After a couple years spent getting drunk and blowing all my money after high school, I gave college a try. And I was good at it.

I’ve always been that student most people hate. I can go to class four or five times a semester and pull a passing grade. Not an A, mind you, although I did do that once, but a passing grade nonetheless. Don’t let that be an example, just know there are people who can do it. Maybe you’re one of those people too.

When starting at Missouri Southern, I thought I was signing up for an education, here only to pick up some set of knowledge and skills required to get a big boy job and one day provide for my family.

I didn’t realize that day would come so soon, but I also didn’t realize that my time at the University wasn’t really about the knowledge or skills at all.

I found out pretty quickly that I was here for an experience, just as much about the people I met and interacted with as it was the information I thought I needed. Looking back, I suppose I’d say the people may have been more important to me overall as they showed me more about life than they ever could have about journalism or communication. Cheesy, I know.

And that’s not a commentary on their skills in their field, rather an appreciative nod to the character these people brought to campus with them every day.

In college, you’ll meet the same people. At least I hope you will.

In fact, I hope you get to interact with all the same people who helped me get from the startled and way too confident freshman I was to the realistic, full-of-potential senior I feel I’ve become.

Maybe you’ll be lucky enough to cross paths with Kristen Livingston, who by far has the most fun spirit of anyone I’ve ever met. She’s that person you hear about giving the shirt off her back to people in need. She’s a good friend indeed. If ever there was someone you could count on, she’s the one.

Know that and lean on her. She’ll lift you up. People like her will be crucial to your journey.

Then there are people like Olive Sullivan. You’ll meet each other and maybe be wary at first, but you’ll bond and become confidants, sharing a common passion. You’ll know that she always has your best interest at heart and that she’d never steer you wrong.

Most of all, you’ll know she will help you do what’s best for you rather than what she’d like to see you do. She’s awesome like that.

Shanna Slavings may be one of your teachers someday. Nothing would make me happier than if she was able to have the impact on you she’s had on me. Despite her scary last name, she really isn’t as tough as she sounds.

She expects good work from her students, and she gets it. I can only imagine she’s that way with everyone in her life. She’s scary on the outside, but inside I know she loves every single one of her students.

Even the ones who don’t come to class. Just don’t take advantage of her. She deserves better.

And who could forget Rhonda Clark? If you find yourself in a class or any situation, really, with this woman, then you should consider yourself among the lucky few. She may be the smartest person on campus. She might even be the smartest person I’ve ever met. And best of all? She will always believe in you, no matter how pathetic a performance you put up in the classroom because she knows what lies underneath the missed classes and haphazard assignments. I wouldn’t have gotten as far as I have without her, and I’m 100 percent serious about that.

But it’s not just the teachers. I met the best friend I’ve ever had in college.

You know him as Jordan Larimore or by any other number of nicknames, most supplied by me. He’s got the purest heart on the planet. You’ll find out for yourself soon enough.

Other people fill in the gaps. You’ll meet sweet girls like Lakin Adams, hipsters like Gabi Markovich, smart girls who pretend to be airheads like Taylor Camden, talented but goofy guys like Willie Brown, cool cats like Jeremy Thomas and the creepy guy in the corner like Nathan Carter. You might even be lucky enough to meet a Shelby Neubeck, Josh Boley or Zech Wheeler along the way.

And yeah, you’ll meet some toolbags too. We all do. The trick is to figure out they’re toolbags as soon as possible. Don’t follow my example on that one, and definitely don’t marry one.

And then there’s your family. They’ll always be here for you to help with homework, money, time or even just give you someone to listen, even if they don’t understand.

They always did that for me, so I can vouch for that just like I can the rest of these people.

Just like I was expected to go to college, I expect you to do the same. Maybe you’ll be like me and study communcation, although if you’re smart you’ll study something that has more money in it down the line. Then again, maybe being like me wouldn’t be so bad, because you’d have all these unbelievably amazing people to help you along the way.

I’d be proud if that could happen

More importantly, I’ll be proud the day you start college. I’ll be just as proud the day you finish college. And just like you’ll be there to see me walk across that stage next week, I’ll be there to see you put on the gown and receive that piece of paper that will become your most prized possession.

And I’ll have the biggest smile of any dad there.

This one’s for you.

I love you, Quinnie Bear.