Reflections from the editor: Kaitlyn Jakola


Kaitlyn Jakola, Editor in chief, Fall Quarter 2012 and Winter Quarter 2013

To say that my time at Northwestern was perfect would be a lie. To even say that it was 90 percent positive would be a lie. But I think we learn more from the truth, which is that the reason I am here today, an adult with a job and a plan and a future I’m excited about, is because I had bad times in college — and that, because of what I learned at NU, I found a way to survive them.

We cannot say this for all of our classmates, unfortunately. There are those who walked through the Arch as nervous, excited freshmen who will never walk back out as nervous, excited seniors. I see their  faces, even those I never knew, when I think about how lucky I am to have made it through.

But I did make it, along with about 2,000 other students, and I am so proud of us. We withstood physical and mental illness, natural disaster, incidents of racial injustice, the loss of beloved friends and professors, and national tragedies like the Boston Marathon bombing and the Newtown school shooting.

What’s even more impressive is the list of things we accomplished despite those challenges: In just four years, various NU students have done everything from starting their own businesses to winning prestigious fellowships to inventing products to (cough, cough) running publications.

So would I be a Wildcat again, given the chance to start over? Absolutely. This campus was the first place I ever really felt wanted. When I was accepted, I began to see for the first time my future, my eventual adulthood. I started to believe the various good things I’d heard said about me but never quite taken at face value.

The effect grew when I got to campus and moved into the Communications Residential College, where I found a community that shared and celebrated even my nerdiest interests. It was in CRC that I met the three girls who would keep me sane through the next four years. And it was in CRC that I first cried about leaving NU, at the end of freshman year when I realized just how fast four years would go.

What I would change, if I could do it again, is how much thought I gave to the shape of this school beyond my graduation date. The 17-year-old who arrived in Evanston on Sept. 13, 2009, could only think about how long four years seemed — longer than she’d ever lived in one place before. She was too overwhelmed by making the most of her own time at NU to even begin to consider what she and her classmates might leave behind.

Since that time, it’s become clear where NU has room for improvement. Racial issues, sexual assault, mental health and overall diversity have all become frequent discussion topics on campus, and it’s been heartening to see my classmates take up these important causes. But as we prepare to leave, we must transfer that passion to those who will finish what we started. Because NU wasn’t perfect during our time here, but for those who follow us, it could come pretty damn close.