Voices: Once a Stranger

 

By Megrez Mosher 08

When people ask me why I chose Pacific University, I tell them it was because I wanted to go to a place that was farthest away from Fairhope, Alabama. Which is true.

I came from a small town that as I grew older, did not seem to fit myself and my ambitions. I am the third generation to be born and raised in Fairhope. Every member of my family is an artist and activist, not something people come to expect from the Southerners, but I assure you, we exist. I grew up wanting to follow in my family's footsteps, but I felt that in a household of creative minds and a town where we are famous or infamous for our influences in the community, that I would always be the granddaughter of the carpenter and the actress. I would always be the daughter of the painter and the dancer. I wanted to be an artist in my own right, I did not want to be a legacy, I wanted to know who I could become in a place where nobody knew my name.

In a strange way, I enjoyed no one knowing who I was as I walked from my from my dorm to class, no one telling me to say hello to my parents, or ask me how my writing was going. I felt like, for the first time, I was on my own, a stranger in a new community.

This feeling did not last for long. I soon began to become completely engrossed in the Pacific Spirit. I do not think that this could have been possible without the professors who reached out a hand to me, and I am very thankful that I took it.

My first encounter with a faculty member outside the classroom was on my first Thanksgiving away from home. I had expected that I was going to be alone, but as I was walking to the bus station to eat sushi in Portland, my history professor, Martha Rampton, asked me what I was doing for dinner. When I told her my plans, she insisted that I eat dinner with her at her home. It was then I began to realize that Pacific was not simply a place where one goes to earn a diploma, it was a community of versatile, hard-working, and brilliant minds who were passionate enough to share their experience and knowledge with their students, asking nothing in return.

I have learned that the wisest thing for me to do is to always take the hand that reached out towards me. Every professor that I have had has always shown great enthusiasm in and outside of the classroom, offering spirited discussions helping to expand my mind by offering different ways to view the world. While I am not sad to leave the cold, wet drizzle that coincides with the academic year, I do feel that I will miss this place for the people. The other lesson that I have learned on this campus is that education is a process, not a product, and even though I have been handed an 8 ½ by 11 inch piece of paper, I know that I am not finished learning. I feel confident that as a member of the Class of 2008 I will go out into a greater world, knowing who I am and what I believe in. In just a few days, I will be taking a cross-country roadtrip to Alabama feeling that I can be the person that I wanted to be, but could never have discovered in the exact place where I felt that I ultimately belong.

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Megrez Mosher delivered this speech at the Baccalaureate event in May 2008 just prior to graduation.