by Patrick Ronan, ’16

 

 

As a senior at West Aurora High School in Aurora, Illinois, I didn’t have definitive criteria for the characteristics I was seeking in a college. There were two things I knew for certain: I wanted to go to an out-of-state school, and I wanted to play volleyball. I expected my college search to be a long and difficult one. However, I was fortunate enough to have my college discover me instead of the other way around.

 

 

In November of my senior year, I was competing in a high school volleyball tournament, much like the thousands of other tournaments I played in. This one, however, turned out to be unlike any other.

 

 

Although I didn’t know at the time, I was being scouted by Dave Schmidlin, former head coach of the Cardinal Stritch University men’s volleyball team. He approached me after the game and asked if I was considering playing volleyball in college (and of course, I was). We exchanged information and scheduled a campus visit.

 

 

Later that month, my father and I drove to Milwaukee to visit Stritch and practice with the volleyball team. I had a great day on campus and instantly felt a strong sense of community. I really liked the student-athletes on the volleyball team as well, and I went home that day with a good feeling in my heart. I kept in contact with my admissions counselor from Stritch, as well as Coach Schmidlin.

 

 

I visited other universities – both large and small, ones where I could play volleyball and others where I couldn’t continue my sport. In all of these campus tours, I never picked up a feeling that could equal the one I had after visiting Stritch.

 

 

Stritch was everything I wanted in a school – a place I felt comfortable, an out-of-state school (but still close enough to home), an impressive communications program, and a competitively-ranked volleyball team. I contacted my Stritch admissions counselor, Lindsay (Rivera) Jackson, ’11, who officially welcomed me to Stritch with her warm and encouraging personality.

The summer after high school was filled with memories of my hometown friends. It ended with some sad goodbyes but even more optimism. I moved to Stritch with all the emotions that many college freshmen feel. I was nervous, excited, anxious, and scared, but I also was ready to make new memories with new people in a new place. Little did I know how much my life was about to change. 

 

 

 

I was blessed to have Collin Hartman, ’14, a junior at the time, as my resident advisor and teammate. He was my first friend at Stritch and taught me about the truly caring nature of the Stritch community.

 

 

I became very involved on campus as a student-athlete and a member of the Residence Hall Association (a group that facilitates events on campus). Freshman year was filled with new friends, new classes and plenty of memorable moments.

 

 

The academic experience that I’ve gained at Stritch has been invaluable. I am especially grateful for the communications courses and faculty. I’ve learned how to communicate more effectively in both interpersonal and professional settings. My coursework included persuasive confession, debate and argumentation, interviewing and communication theory. The program is rigorous, challenging and rewarding.

 

 

My professors have invested so much more in me than academics. They’ve taught me how to push myself to be a better person, work harder, carry the Franciscan values through my everyday life, and to see love and God in the world around us.

 

I’ve grown more in these past four years than any others in my life. I thank my professors, coaches, teammates, classmates, and the entire Stritch community. I am proud to call myself a Cardinal Stritch University alumnus.

 

*Photos courtesy of The Department of Intercollegiate Athletics