I was set on Notre Dame. No question about it. I had toured the school and had fallen in love with the campus, the students and the tradition. Notre Dame was the school for me. Unfortunately, the kind folks at the University of Notre Dame Admissions Office didn’t agree.
When I received my rejection letter, I was heartbroken. How could this have happened? I worked so hard throughout high school, took SAT prep classes, wrote great essays — Notre Dame was the perfect fit for me.
After getting rejected from the school of my dreams, I had to decide which school would be the right fit for me. I began touring the schools that I had been accepted to. Actually, to be fair, I only went on one of these post-acceptance tours.
When I arrived in Ann Arbor for the first time, I liked the general feel, but wasn’t entirely sold right away. My tour guide was atrocious and my parents and I were famished. Instead of finishing the tour, we dipped out midway through as we passed through the Diag. We decided to have lunch at this quaint little restaurant called Good Time Charley’s. We had nachos and talked about how terrible the tour guide was. Little did I know that three years later, I would be celebrating my 21st birthday a few feet from the very table we ate at — a night I will remember forever … well most of it, at least.
After eating, we decided to embark on a self-guided tour of campus. During college visits, my mom would always pick out students and ask them about the school. Though this method was quirky and downright embarrassing, it actually helped me gauge schools and the type of kids at the institution.
At Michigan, every kid my mom stopped was ecstatic to tell someone new about how much they loved the school. I noticed that everyone wore maize and blue and everyone was involved in one of the 1,000-plus student organizations. By the third kid my mom stopped, I was sold; I knew that Michigan was the place for me.
When move-in day came, my parents and I noticed that my dorm was not part of the original tour we had gone on. In fact, the entire campus my dorm was part of was not seen during our tour. I had been assigned to Bursley Hall on North Campus and it didn’t take me long to realize my dorm was separated from everything else. Needless to say, I was upset.
While helping me move in, my mom couldn’t help but notice that the kid across the hall from me was playing some classic music. A die-hard Bruce Springsteen fan, my mom has a special place in her heart for classic rock and approached the kid to tell him that he was playing some great hits. His name was Chris and before I knew it, my mom was introducing him to me. When I met him, I had no idea that four years later I would’ve lived with Chris and that he and his friends from high school would become some of my most cherished friends. The people that lived in my hall with me in Bursley helped define the trajectory of my Michigan career and looking back, I wouldn’t have wanted to live anywhere else.
Soon after getting comfortable with campus, classes and developing a good group of friends, I decided that I needed to get involved. Considering that I’d been a part of student council throughout middle school and high school, I decided to run for Central Student Government (back then it was called Michigan Student Assembly.)
I recruited all of my friends to help get the vote out and we even threw a few campaign parties. When the results finally came out, I was about 60 votes short of what I needed to be elected. I felt disillusioned and lost. The only way I had ever known how to get involved was through student government.
As I was sitting in the Bursley Dining Hall reading a publication that I was getting very accustomed to, The Michigan Daily, I saw an advertisement that said, “Write for The Daily! Come to one of our mass meetings!” Considering that I had nothing else to do with my recently freed-up schedule, I decided to stop by. When I walked into the newsroom of the Daily for the first time, I had no idea that over the next four years, I would sit on the editboard, be an Assistant Editor of the Opinion Section and eventually a columnist. Though the Daily is famous for its openness, it has but one restriction on who can be on staff: no members of CSG.
Throughout my life, my parents have raised me to look at life’s mishaps as blessings in disguise. Though this mindset is hard to appreciate when life throws an unfortunate obstacle your way, accepting the fact that things happen for a reason is truly the key to happiness. The fact that I am a student at Michigan, writing this very column. Even acknowledging some of the people who are reading it are all results of blessings in disguise.
I have written more than 50 pieces for The Michigan Daily. This column will be my last. I will never be able to fully thank the editors of this incredible institution, nor my readers for their enthusiasm and dedication. To my family and friends: thank you for your continued encouragement and unwavering support — even when my columns pertained to things that meant absolutely nothing to you. And to this University and the incredible people that make it up: I thank you from the bottom of my heart. You have allowed me to join a family that I am honored to be a part of. The friends that I have made, the games that I have watched and the lessons that I have learned during my time here will not soon be forgotten. These last four years have been the greatest of my life. Attending this school has been the best blessing in disguise of all.
Patrick Maillet can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.