I will never truly be able to thank Plymouth State for one of the greatest times of my life. College never seemed to be in the cards for me going through high school. To be honest, I lacked faith in myself and I was okay with the fact that I would never go. But people had faith in me and pushed me to get where I am today. I am a Plymouth State graduate, Class of 2018, and I left a piece of my heart with Exit 25 when I drove away for the last time. I found myself at Plymouth, and if I hadn’t taken that risk I can’t imagine how different life would be. I learned to love myself, to love others, and to love life. I will truly never be able to thank Plymouth State for giving me the encouragement to grow, the outstanding guidance and support, and most importantly, lifelong friends.
There were a lot of people who doubted my ambition, but that didn’t stop me. When I came to the realization that my tuition was going to be out of my pocket, I picked up another job and in April 2015 made the final payment for my first year at PSU. I had 84 cents in my bank account that day and I had never felt so accomplished. I realized if you really want something, you’ll find a way. And that’s what I did, I found my way.
I was granted work-study and immediately began the job search, which ultimately helped make up tuition payments. I initially worked at the Wellness Center in the Hartman Union Building. But when those doors closed, Drew Guay, the Recreation Programs director, welcomed me. Rec Programs were such an important part of my time at Plymouth. The first person I met there was Zach Stevens, one of the friendliest and loudest people you’ll ever meet. He has a big heart. I remember going into my first meeting scared out of my mind and I looked up to see him pointing to the chair next to him and the easily accessible Smartfood. No one else on staff knew my name yet, and Zach was already saving me VIP snack seats.
When I needed guidance, I always looked to the staff, who became some of my best friends. To have that kind of bond with the people you work with made it that much better. Rec Programs offered so many opportunities to test ourselves and express what we were passionate about. For example, two staff members became certified to teach PiYo, and another was able to offer personal training to students at the gym. Together we had an amazing staff, a love like family, and room to grow.
As a senior, I had the privilege of interning for Recreation Programs. Drew challenged me to take on bigger responsibilities and further develop my professionalism. His guidance and support reminded me of my potential. I truly believe we had one of the best staffs on campus because it had some of the best people I have had the pleasure of meeting. And to think; if I had listened to what everyone else said, would I know what I know now? I know my self worth, and I know that I can do anything I put my mind to. It’s my life and I have learned to love and live it to the fullest. Plymouth showed me how to live in the moment, to appreciate the good people around me, and to never stop trying.
Your life is truly what you make of it. There comes a time where doubt can blind us to the light that we carry within. It took me a long time to realize that what other people think about you has nothing to do with you and everything to do with them. The truth is, you could be the juiciest, most perfect peach in the whole world and there will always be someone who doesn’t like peaches. I couldn’t imagine where I would be without my experience at Plymouth State.
If there is one thing to take away from my story, I hope it’s the simple fact that you can do anything. The world is in the palm of your hand and the only person you have to prove anything to is yourself. Spread the love, hug your neighbors, take risks, step out of your comfort zone, and most importantly, live. I don’t know how I’ll be remembered at Plymouth State but I will always remember the times I had and the inspirational people I met along the way. I will never be able to truly thank those who saw the best in me and helped me get to where I am. Standing here as the person I am today, I can say Plymouth State changed my life and for that I am forever grateful.
“Be the change you wish to see in the world.”—Ghandi
Katie Alden ’18, a criminal justice major, is from Sandwich, MA. She has two younger siblings, Shelley and Wally, who are her inspiration. Alden was named to the top 20 Outstanding Seniors list & student employee of the year for 2017- 2018.