It’s hard to believe that my undergraduate experience is already coming to a close. This year is not what anyone wanted or expected. Students across the country have had to balance education with unexpected factors that demand our attention. Even with the holidays right around the corner, safety and health remains a priority for many and that, in itself, is something to be #LMUThankful for.
I frequently find myself wondering what first-year Jack would have to say to senior-year Jack. He would be surprised by my ASLMU leadership involvement. He would certainly be happy to see that I get to serve alongside wonderful and devoted friends from this opportunity.
To be transparent, I was close to transferring out of LMU at the end of my first semester. Homesickness, loneliness, and lack of direction led me to believe that returning home to Tennessee was the best option for me. At the time, I was a goofy freshman working at the Sorority and Fraternity Life office’s front desk and I extend my appreciation to Allison and Larry, for investing their support of me. Rather than running away from the unknown challenges ahead, I decided to stick it out and invest back into my new community on the bluff. As a result, I became almost too active during my second semester of freshman year, finding myself wiped out every night and struggling to balance it all. But I did my best to find the balance.
Words cannot convey how happy I am that I remained at LMU. I’ve met amazing friends, and I have grown as a student in class and as a person in my extracurriculars. It has been a great honor and privilege to serve as the ASLMU President, and I am thankful to the other amazing student leaders inside and out of ASLMU who have continued to spend time serving their fellow students. And although ASLMU did not get to put on classic events like Fallapalooza, an annual LMU community music event, we did have the opportunity to spend this unique time to address individual student needs and support our LMU community. If ASLMU has made this semester easier and more manageable for students, then it’s all been worth it.
This year has been a learning experience, especially to have more reasonable expectations of myself. I’ve learned that it is sometimes necessary to step back from everything to take a breath. I’ve also learned just how caring the staff and faculty are at LMU; most continue to try their best to curate the LMU experience for the students they serve, and that attention is not lost on the student body.
I do not think any senior – or student, for that matter – at LMU is particularly thrilled about the reality of this year. As this very unorthodox semester concludes, the holiday season presents an opportunity to breathe and reflect on reasons to be thankful. This year, I am thankful for my health and those of my family, friends, and mentors. I am thankful for being a student at LMU, and I am thankful to have that experience alongside so many inspiring individuals.
I won’t be able to see family this Thanksgiving, but that’s okay. Even though the holidays will be much different than before, I am still looking to sitting down to eat with my grandmother and mother, even if it is through a laptop, to check-in and see how they too have remained healthy and resilient.
— Jack Palen ’21, ASLMU President
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