By Julia Callahan
When I think back on my time at DePaul, I can’t help but figure it was some sort of divine intervention. Not that I needed “intervention,” but coming to DePaul definitely didn’t feel like my choice. At least not at first.
In fact, I didn’t even like DePaul all that much at first. I toured DePaul in November of my junior year of high school. It was one of the first colleges I visited. I was intrigued by the idea of moving out of my suburban home and living in the nearby city. I also had grown up Catholic, so the thought of going to a school where I could easily live out my faith was a plus, too. When I arrived for my tour that day, it was far from what I expected. Where were the skyscrapers? Lincoln Park was pretty, sure, but it wasn’t the Chicago I pictured in my head. Also, it was basically winter by this point in November when I visited, and a slushy, muddy snow covered the neighborhood. Gross. I could hear the sound of train cars on the L going by. I thought, how annoying. On top of the icky atmosphere that day, my tour had way too many families touring at once and I couldn’t hear a thing my tour guide said. Although I had heard promising things about DePaul’s College of Communication, I ruled DePaul out quickly.
In the year to come, I toured other schools, applied, and was accepted to a handful of other universities. After convincing myself that I wanted to go to another Chicago school, I felt compelled to tour DePaul again. I’m not sure why, but I wanted to come back. Just to be sure. This time, it was spring. There were flowers on the quad, students hanging out together, and the neighborhood was alive. This time, I specifically met with some professors from the College of Communication and I was sold. The second chance I gave DePaul was a total switch in my brain, but I couldn’t help but notice a switch in my soul, too. The DePaul I met that day was nothing like my first impression. I knew I was meant to be here. I think God wanted me to be here.
The years went by and the things I once found annoying about DePaul’s campus became some of my favorite things instead. Little did I know that I would grow to love the neighborhood feel of Lincoln Park. Little did I know I would spend three years living on campus, and two of them would be spent in the resident halls as an RA right next to the train. Little did I know the whirring sound of the red, purple, and brown lines would lull me to sleep at night. I would have never guessed I’d grow to find snowfall on campus beautiful. Sometimes your choices might surprise yourself, but I feel like God led me here and I’m glad I listened. I’ve learned that while first impressions may be important, many things deserve a second chance. When you really take the time to know someone or something, your opinions may change. And that’s ok!
It’s hard to encapsulate what I experienced during my 4 years here, but it all boils down to lots and lots of friendship and lots and lots of personal growth. By far the greatest gift DePaul has given me are my friends. I only hope that their life-long and continue to be as fulfilling as they have been so far. DePaul gave me a place I felt welcome to be myself, to live my faith, and to explore the reality of those who are different from me. I walked off of campus with an understanding of each person’s dignity, including my own. Leaving DePaul, I’m better equipped to advocate for the needs of myself and others. I think that’s what God would have wanted for me, too.