The Cougar Commission: Week 1

For 16 years, me and my family had driven past Saint Xavier University countless times. Whether it was on my way to grammar school at St. Germane, to Portillo’s, or to church, I was always looking in awe at this university. It wasn’t until Monday, August 22, that I myself turned onto 103rd and Hamlin, not just looking at the university but as part of the university. It was about 7:05 a.m. and The Eagles’ “Hotel California” softly played through the concert surround system of my 2000 Buick LeSabre. I picked a parking spot in Lot 12 and stepped out of the car, taking a deep breath. After grabbing my backpack and locking my doors, my mind raced with questions as I made my way to the main entrance. Will I fit in? Will I find my classes in time? Will I even make any friends? After what seemed to be the longest walk of my life, I finally reached the doors. This is it, I thought to myself. However, this wasn’t just college. It was my college. Blessing myself, I opened the big glass doors and stepped into what will be the center of my life for the next four years to come.

My name is Nicholas Vazquez, I am 18 years old and a freshman here at Saint Xavier University. I live with my mom, dad and two younger brothers on the Southside of Chicago in Merrionette Park. I went to grammar school at St. Germaine, and I am a proud graduate of Saint Rita of Cascia High School in Chicago. I love to read, write, watch sci-fi movies and sports and spend time with my family and friends. However, entering college, I was very skeptical of how things would go for me. I was nervous about how the college atmosphere would treat me. Would it feel good? Will I feel welcomed? Will I succeed? Those were just some of the many questions I would ask myself over the summer. I am only a week into my college experience at Saint Xavier and I can, without a doubt, answer “yes” to all three of those questions.

My first week of classes went much better than anticipated. For one, I feel very comfortable at this university. There is an unexplainable and positive aura here on campus. It feels as if this place is telling me not to worry. It feels as if I am at home. In addition to the calming environment, the professors I’ve met have been very reassuring that they are here for me and the rest of my fellow freshmen. With their doors always open to us and only an email away, they definitely have given me a more positive outlook on being successful inside and outside the classroom. Interestingly enough, my classmates themselves have also made my first week exciting. I have reconnected with familiar faces and made friends with new ones. Everyone I have met so far have been very unique and different in their own ways. I am definitely excited to be with my fellow peers for the next four years. Not only have I met some interesting freshmen but I have also met some very welcoming upperclassmen. From directing me to my correct classes or showing me the places to relax and hangout, it is a very reassuring feeling knowing that the upperclassmen are watching over me and my peers.

Though I am putting all my focus and energy in all of my current classes, I also have not lost sight of my goals and expectations while at Saint Xavier University. Not only do I expect to do well in the classroom, I plan on taking all of the university’s opportunities to become more involved on and off the campus. These opportunities include things such as theatre, various campus ministry roles, and Lord willing, becoming a future FOCUS leader. When it comes to my education, I plan to graduate Saint Xavier University with a bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice. Shortly after that, I plan on training to become a police officer and work in Oak Lawn or the city of Chicago. However, those are only my short-term goals. I aspire to one day join the FBI and take a position in their National Security branch. If there is one thing I’ve taken away from my first week here at Saint Xavier, it is that this school has all the right tools to help me put my best foot forward, and I am very confident that the university will do nothing but give me the best opportunities to succeed in my future.

I am not only drawn to the university from the outside but the inside as well. Saint Xavier has mentioned many times about their dedication and pride in their Core Values. These Core Values are what sit at the heart of the school and are the center of how it operates each and every day. The Core Values of Respect, Excellence, Compassion, Service, Hospitality, Integrity, Diversity, and Learning for Life are what hold the leaders and the student body together. I may have only been here a full week, but I already see these Core Values being expressed by everyone. I have a personal connection with one of these values — Respect. Not only was Respect the name of my freshman orientation group, but I feel that it is a vital Core Value to be practiced on and off the campus. I am a firm believer in respect and everywhere I go, I make it my duty to make sure people of all genders, backgrounds and heritages get the respect they deserve, as I am always ready to stand in the way of those who think otherwise. I look forward to sharing my views of Respect to everyone I encounter at Saint Xavier and am undoubtedly thrilled to witness and express these values not only through the rest of the year, but my whole college career and beyond.

I have nothing but high regards for this school. Saint Xavier honestly could not have done a better job making me feel more positive this first week during my freshman year, and I am eager to see what is in store for the future. They have also made me feel more confident in my abilities as a student and as a young man overall. From my teachers to my peers to me, I can wholeheartedly say that I definitely made the right decision to attend Saint Xavier and have no regrets about my choice. I look forward to studying, working, and enjoying myself here in these next four years. After one full week, I can easily say that my future is bright at this university. After all, this isn’t just college, this is my college.

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