Reflections · Service

Saying goodbye (to my students).

As I write this, I’m in a pretty weird place mentally.  I honestly haven’t planned this post out at all and don’t know what to say.  But today deserves recognition.  With my term of service with College Possible at an end and all of our end-of-year celebrations over, I can’t help but think about what life is going to be like from now on.  How do I leave a place that has formed my passions, opened my eyes, and set me on a path for my foreseeable future?  How do I leave the supervisors and coworkers I have looked up to for the past two years, the people who have been my role models and supporters during this formative period?  Most importantly, how do I say goodbye to my students?

At the end of this post I’ll include what my goodbye message to my students consisted of on Facebook.  Obviously at this point I trust College Possible with all my heart to continue to take care of my students.  This year I formed incredible relationships with them, granted I’ll admit that some of those relationships might mean a lot more to me than they mean to them, which is absolutely fine.  Even so, every single one of my students had some aspect of themselves that inspired me to be better, to want what’s best for them, and ultimately to want them to be happy.  I think that was the most incredible and important aspect of College Possible: the students in and of themselves inspire the coaches to want the best for them.  It was my job to care about my students, and I feel fortunate to have been able to put that passion into my work and to have grown so much from it.

As my students, my coworkers, and I all go our separate ways, I know it’s not the end of our relationships.  I’ll see my Marquette students around campus while I’m in grad school, a lot of my other students will also be around, and many of my coworkers will still be in Milwaukee.  It doesn’t really feel like there’s that kind of finality.  I guess there is always the fear that I will never have the same kind of job satisfaction or feel like I made as much of a difference as I did with College Possible.  I know it’s ridiculous, but it’s just hard to imagine.

Writing helps a lot.  Reflecting on everything reminds me that I’m going into a new phase in my life.  It’s going to be completely unhealthy for me to dwell on the past, rather I should look for new opportunities.  Acknowledging that I will have a completely different relationship with my students now is also significant.  I say again: writing helps.  A lot.  I think I just needed this blog post to get my head level, focus on what is really happening with my life now that College Possible will no longer have as much of a role to play.  So thanks for putting up with my shit.

Back to what really matters.  I wanted to plan what I wrote to my students on my last day much more than what ended up happening, but as I wrote it I still became pretty emotional, and it’s probably the most honest I’ve ever been with my students, letting them know how much they mean to me and what I see in them.

“Coming in to College Possible, I had no idea what to expect. I thought I did pretty well navigating college, so I figured I would be able to help other people do the same, pretty straightforward. However, very early on in my first term of service I discovered it was so much more than that. When I try to narrow down what it is about my students over the past two years that stand out to me, it’s very difficult to do. Because it’s just… you. It’s your passion. Your dedication. Your persistence. The fact that you never let anyone tell you what you can’t do. The fact that you all know you can achieve your goals and ultimately make a difference. The fact that you’re all just completely beautiful people. I feel immeasurably honored to have been involved in your lives, even minimally.

I know that I might just be another coach in a long line of College Possible coaches you have had and will continue to have, but you should know that all of you mean so much to me. The incessant messaging, emails, tagging, haikus, song parodies, videos, memes, and calls have all been because I truly care about you, your future, and ultimately your happiness. You have made me reflect on what my role in society is and what it should be. Just as I like to think I have contributed to your future, you have given me a future. There’s no way I can ever thank you all enough for the past two years of my life, years that I hope to look back on fondly and maybe even reminisce upon with you as time goes on.

With time also comes distance. People come and go, but I hope with all my heart I will be able to see what you accomplish and where you go next. You came into College Possible with the goal of being in college, and having worked with all of you, I know that your goals have advanced and you have started developing visions for your futures. And I am going to tell you one thing that I mean with all my heart: you can achieve those goals. Every damn one of you. You have my number and I’m sharing my personal Facebook one last time in hopes that we can continue our relationship. Just remember that I’m always rooting for you and I believe in you. I love you all. Thank you.”

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One thought on “Saying goodbye (to my students).

  1. Eli, it has been amazing to work with you these past two years. I am blessed by your passion and dedication to our students. You did change the world and continue to do so. I will miss seeing you on a daily basis but am glad you are not far. Looking forward to hearing about your next adventure. Xoxo

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