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I have been a part of this newspaper staff for the past three and a half years. I have had my name in the byline 153 times. I have served as a sports reporter, sports editor, features editor and have had the honor and privilege to serve as the Talon’s 2018-19 editor-in-chief. But, like all good things, my time on the Talon has come to an end.

A few weeks ago, I was asked the question of how I knew Oklahoma Christian University was the right fit for me when I was deciding on a college to attend. Honestly, I did not.

Before coming on a visit to campus, I had never been to Oklahoma before, much less heard of Oklahoma Christian. I knew I wanted to attend a private, Christian school, and I wanted to play softball. In 2015, I moved from my small town of 4,500 people to a state, city and school where I knew no one. But, I was determined to make a life for myself here at Oklahoma Christian.

Looking back at the past four years, I think I did just that. At Oklahoma Christian, I found a place where faculty and staff would send encouraging emails the day before a big softball game and then be in the stands cheering, whether we won or lost. I found a place where I was challenged to grow in every aspect of my life—physically, mentally and spiritually. I found a place where talents of all kinds were recognized and rewarded, from athletics and the arts to STEM and mock trial; a place where diversity was valued and the least expected friendships oftentimes turned out to be the best ones.

I did not just earn a degree here. As cliché as it may sound, I found a home.

This campus is not perfect, but I will firmly stand by the fact that it is something truly special. From my time on the Talon, I was able to interview some of Oklahoma Christian’s legends and its next generation of movers and shakers. These people have poured their blood, sweat and tears to make Oklahoma Christian what it is today, and it has been a humbling experience to get to speak with individuals I might have never known about without that week’s specific Talon assignment.

I still remember pulling into the campus for the first time, seeing the clock tower and feeling as if I had arrived home. I could write a novel about the past four years, but I will just leave you with this: Oklahoma Christian has challenged me, changed me and given me the courage to start this next chapter of my life. It has not always been perfect and has oftentimes not been easy, but it has, without a doubt, been worth it.

I can only hope I am leaving this campus a little better than I found it and can only wish the next batch of Oklahoma Christian students will strive to do the same.

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