Essay winner: Victoria College student meets people who enrich his life

June 1, 2014 at 1:01 a.m.

John Schlembach

John Schlembach

The Victoria Advocate will be publishing student essays from the Victoria College "What's Your Story?" scholarship competition during the next few weeks. Students were asked to write an essay answering the question, "How has Victoria College changed your life?" Winners of the contest will receive a $1,000 scholarship funded by the Victoria College Foundation. We welcome letters and columns from all students.

Moving to a new town can be exciting, nerve-racking and stressful, but it can also be a time of renewal. A new location means fresh faces, scenery and activities. A little more than two years ago, I moved from Houston to Victoria. One of the positive changes my girlfriend - the reason I moved - encouraged me to make was to return to school. Though institutionalized education and I have never been on a first-name basis, I, to use a terrible joke, gave it the old college try and found ample rewards. In particular, having met more new people through my attendance and association with the college than anywhere else, I would say that is the most important thing that Victoria College has done.

The first day in my first class brought back many old and uncomfortable feelings that I thought I was done dealing with. I remember looking around at all the people I didn't recognize. I tried to take a seat in the back, as I'm wont to do. My girlfriend grabbed my hand, and we sat down in front in desks adjacent to each other. The instructor was late, but I would come to know him well. I would frequently stay after class to chat with him. More recently, I have been attending yoga once a week. I have seen him there. At a Museum of the Coastal Bend function, I saw that same professor and, of all people, my yoga instructor.

Several students in my classes this semester I have met before. It's good to have a familiar face, if nothing else, when one is taking a new class. There are times when I may be shopping or otherwise concerned with my daily life when I bump into someone I've met through school. Now that I'm attending college, I will keep an eye out for any VC shirt. If that were the only metric of the importance and influence of the college, it would still be a remarkable thing.

It is not uncommon for my girlfriend to bring home a friend who was, at first, a classmate. It is not uncommon for all of us to become friends as a result of this. However, the friends she introduces me to are not just students but teachers as well. Victoria College's gift of company is not limited to just school.

When I began attending the local Unitarian Universalist church, the first good friend I made was a professor at VC. Through that first professor, I have met others. It seems no matter where I go or what I do, it all comes back to VC. I've attended meetings of the film club as often as I can, and have met people whose company I enjoy greatly. I've given my time to events held at the college such as V-Day and met many wonderful people who have enriched my life beyond that first chance encounter.

I've helped friends who were formerly professors of mine. I've kept teachers company while they did their work. I've helped students with their work, giving a paper some peer review or transcribing notes when someone has to miss class, and they've helped me with mine. I've gotten to have a casual chat with one teacher at the Knowledge Bowl.

College is supposed to be one of the best experiences of one's life. It is a time for growth, change, exploration and learning. It is a time to get to know the world, yourself and, just as importantly, new people. I'm proud that my college experience begins with Victoria College and that it begins, and can only begin, with more new people.

John Schlembach is a student at Victoria College and entered the "What's Your Story? Scholarship essay contest. He lives in Victoria.



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