COLUMN: Coming from humble beginnings


Rob Le Cates

Katja Benz is a senior English major and can be reached at 217-581-2812.

Katja Benz, Columnist

So, I transferred here from a local community college close to my hometown.

At the community college I went to, despite the word community being in the name, there wasn’t much community and camaraderie between the students.

Even though I was able to meet new people, make new friends, and gain connections with other students and faculty, I still fell into the stereotype that community colleges usually have: students go to class and go home.

If I wasn’t at speech practice (which was only two days a week), in class (for 15 hours or less), or studying at the on-campus Starbucks in between classes (I didn’t want to go home for two hours just to go back and waste more gas), I was usually working or at home with my family.

I was starting to think that college was great, I loved it and that I never wanted to leave.

Then the pandemic hit in March of 2020. I was a college sophomore. I was lonely, I was sad and all I wanted to do was go back to in-person classes (even though I was ecstatic to not have to get up every day at 6:00 a.m. to get ready and make it to my 8:00 a.m. classes).

I was originally going to attend Eastern in the Fall of 2020 but didn’t due to the pandemic.

Even though I was lonely taking a gap year and living with my parents another year, (despite taking classes in a certificate program and worked to pass the time).

I realized that I would have been more lonely spending time in my dorm room five days a week, not having a roommate, making reservations to go work out, or getting food to go from the dining hall just to go back to eat it in my room.

I’ve been told by others that they were lonely too and that almost nothing went on around campus.

Fortunately, things seemed more normal when I came to Eastern in the fall of 2021.

While we were still required to wear masks inside, we could go to sporting events, concerts, other activities and live more freely than in the previous school year.

Last year was one of the best years of my life. I actually made friends and made meaningful connections with both fellow students and staff. It was slowly starting to feel like freshman year again… kind of.

Now the pandemic (while still here) isn’t in full force and taking over our lives. My first fully normal year of college came when I was a senior. That’s when things started to become normal again.

And now, it’s just post Halloweekend and family weekend. I have 24 weeks until I graduate in Lantz with a bachelor’s degree.

As much as I’ve loved college, I never really enjoyed myself and lived my college life to the fullest. So, please enjoy yours for me.

Katja Benz is a senior English major. She can be reached at [email protected] or 217-581-2812.