By Kerrie Wolf-Piechota
Nine years ago, I had never heard of Union College or this city in New York called Schenectady. I didn’t even know how to pronounce it. My graduate school roommate, who was from Staten Island, laughed at me when I asked her where “Shen-ek-tah-dee” was.
But when I was job searching, it didn’t matter. I had found the job of my dreams, and it was at a small, private, liberal arts college with a huge student activities presence. I knew I would have so many opportunities to learn, which would help me when I moved on to another job a few years down the road.
And by a few years, I was thinking maybe four—come in with a class; go out with that class. What I didn’t count on was falling in love with Union, with upstate New York and eventually with the man who is now my husband.
I have had a lot of ups and downs over the past nine years that have shaped me into the person I am today.
There have been marriages and births, injuries and deaths. There have been hopes and joys, fears and frustrations, happiness and anger. And through it all, the people I have connected with — my friends, my students, my co-workers, the people who have served as my family away from home—have been there.
In my life, I have learned a lot. Never miss an opportunity to tell your family that you love them because you never know if that’s the last time you’re going to talk to them. I know the last words I spoke to my mom before she passed unexpectedly in 2009 were “I love you.”
I learned that you will never know what is going to happen unless you take a chance—I moved here knowing only one person and now I am connected to this area in more ways than some people who have lived here forever. I learned that failures aren’t always a bad thing. Sometimes we need to fail in order to learn a bigger lesson. I learned that no matter where you go, you should get involved in the community you live in. Really make it a home, because it is your home. You might only be there for four years, but you might be there for 10 or even the rest of your life.
So how do you say goodbye to a place that has been such a huge part of your life? You don’t.
I will never be able to say goodbye to this place. The people I have met and the friends I have made as a result of being a part of the Union community for nine years will remain in my heart and in my mind forever.
So instead of goodbye, I want to say thank you. Thank you for allowing me to be me, to grow with you, to guide you and to learn from you.
I will miss you.