August 22, 2019 | 89° F

LILIKAS: Positive transformations at Rutgers signal bright future

Opinions Column: Digital Canvas


I tend to use my column as a place to discuss my opinions on the constant progress of the digital world (hence the name Digital Canvas), more specifically social media and how it affects different kinds people, businesses and of course, our University. As millennials, social media is important. It drives us to do a lot of things and say a lot of things, so I always felt that my judgments on certain matters would certainly be relatable for those that still read newspapers and op-eds. But for my first article of my senior year, I want to use this space to reflect instead on the constant progress of Rutgers as a community and campus.

Like many other students here, I am born and bred in New Jersey, coming from a long line of Rutgers alumni. So because of this, I know that Rutgers University is not what it used to be a decade ago. No — scratch that. Rutgers is not even what it used to be just three years ago, when I first stepped foot on campus as a freshman. Our five campuses have grown exponentially, and so has the Rutgers community because of it. We are bigger and better than ever before, and as a senior, that only makes it that much harder to leave behind all of these amazing new changes to my future alma mater. There are beautiful buildings being erected every few months, new students coming from parts of the world I barely even know of, and grandiose housing that would have definitely made living on a used, twin sized mattress that much better as a first-year. 

Of course, I would not have changed my Rutgers experience for anything. I look back at my nightmarish roommates and crowded bus rides to and from Cook campus everyday and, oddly enough, enjoy those memories. But even with the great experiences I got to have at this school, I can’t help but feel a tinge of jealousy toward the incoming undergraduates. Sure, they still have to deal with housing lotteries and an overcrowded dining hall, but Surf Taco and a traveling Starbucks truck are a real luxury that I hope they can truly appreciate. Most of my classes and dorm rooms didn’t even have air conditioning, and now we have the Honors College and The Yard on College Avenue that resemble five-star hotels. 

But how we go through college is subjective, so even though the younger students get to have a different experience than any previous graduating classes, it is what we make of our four years here. Even though The Yard would have made for some even better bragging rights as an undergrad, having the most diverse incoming freshman class we’ve ever seen and Big Ten recognition are just two amazing changes of many that this school has been able to achieve. That’s something to be proud of, even if I am a little jealous. I have said this in many of my previous columns, but we are a world-renowned university and we have to be proud of that. And being proud of my school only made me want to work that much harder. 

I came to Rutgers with the hopes of achieving everything I wrote about in my college essay. I thought I would do certain things and become a certain kind of person. However, this ever-changing school has given me the opportunity to do a lot more than just those few things I wrote about in some nonsense essay I ogled over for months when I was 17. The path I believed I would take at that age resembles nothing of the path I am currently on, and that is a very good thing.

Being a senior is scary, and a little sad. For a lot of us, this is the end of our schooling and the start of a real life, where things like health insurance and 401(k)s are not just something our parents talk at us about. Now that I am a mere 12 credits and seven months away from graduating, I have realized that this university has made me grow as a person just as much as it grew as a campus and community. My degree comes with a certain set of responsibilities that I would have never thought about when I was applying to school. So even though being a senior is sad and scary, I am optimistic and hopeful, because things are always changing and getting better — our very own Rutgers being a prime example.

Epatia Lilikas is a School of Arts and Sciences senior majoring in English and economics. Her column, “Digital Canvas,” runs monthly on Wednesdays.

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