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The news that keeps us Onward On!

The Carroll News

The news that keeps us Onward On!

The Carroll News

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Alissa at the apex: a summer of second chances

2023 Lorain International Princesses the first time captured in costume at their fundraising dinner.

In middle and high school, summer was an oasis that replenished us from an exhausting school year. I remember the excitement that erupted the moment summer break began:

Worry and stress melted into a tropical smoothie of carefree tranquility. School supplies that once traveled everywhere are now crammed into a cardboard box and fill the spot in the closet where pool noodles and beach balls previously occupied. The sacred book bag that, over time, engulfed shredded paper clippings and random artifacts was stored away. What was its replacement? Why, of course, the capacious beach bag, ready to see daylight—and lots of it.

While the nostalgia of summer break is quite palpable, college threw a wrench in my notion of summer. It no longer consists of sojourns to dreamy beaches or hours of poolside sunbathing. Instead, summer break now equates to work.

I had never dared to picture summer break and work in the same scenario. In fact, the combination of “break” and “work” in one sentence is ironic. How could summer never not be thrilling? A 12-year-old me would shudder at the thought.

Thus, the search for an antidote led me to a crossroads. To my surprise, I was given second chances in multiple branches of my life to connect back to my childhood.


In June, I competed in a cultural pageant, called the Lorain International, and represented my Hungarian heritage. While this event shoved me out of my comfort zone, I felt like I needed to participate; it was time to learn about my heritage. Time is fleeting and I only have one living grandparent left on this earth.

In the process, I met 14 other princesses who were also on a quest to discover more about their heritage. In an exchange, they taught me about their culture as I taught them about the recollection of mine.

By exploring my origin, I learned more than I could ever envision about myself and my ancestry. It felt as though I had a second chance at getting to know the ancestors that I truly knew little about while they lived.


By day, I wore princess dresses. By night, I rehearsed as a tough Newsboy.

In July, I appeared on stage and performed in one of my favorite musicals, “Newsies.” This was yet another event that challenged my comfort level. I’ve performed in a couple musicals throughout my life, but I had never encountered an acting block. I struggled to portray a boy, overthinking my mannerisms and my soprano voice.

In 2020, I was casted in “Newsies” at my high school. Like most plans the pandemic foiled, “Newsies” was canceled. After a six year hiatus, “Newsies” was going to be my comeback to the stage. However, I didn’t know at the time that it wouldn’t be until 2023 that I would grace the stage as a Newsie once more and that I would meet some of the best people that I could ever come to know.

When show day came around, I put my foot down and allowed myself to become lost in the character. With help from the cast and crew, we all managed to pull it off. The second chance was worth the wait.


Finally, we have August.

A week before classes commenced, I moved in early to reignite a passion that I assumed was extinguished: cheerleading.

In the spring, I made a spontaneous decision to try out for John Carroll’s cheer team. I had cheered both competitively for three years and non-competitively for six years prior to my arrival as a freshman in college. All I can say is that it feels right to be back in the groove of athleticism. Yet another second chance that swept me off my feet.


Now, in September, I am grateful that my summer was a blend of hard work and fun. Yes, I did work part-time during the summer. But, I learned how to balance the fun with the work—something I hadn’t considered when I was younger.

Upon reflecting on my “summer of second chances,” I have learned that sometimes it is necessary to reconnect with our roots in order to blossom into the people we’re meant to become.

With everything said, I’m ecstatic to return to the John Carroll campus with a better grip on my roots. What better way to cultivate them than with the enriching environment of academics alongside a supportive community.

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About the Contributor
Alissa Van Dress
Alissa Van Dress, Campus Editor
Alissa Van Dress is a junior English major from Amherst, Ohio. She has a concentration in professional writing with minors in business, creative writing and Spanish and Hispanic Studies. Previously, Alissa served as the copy editor at The Carroll News. In addition to her current role as campus editor, Alissa is a JCU football and basketball cheerleader, a writing consultant at the JCU Writing Center, works as a digital engagement ambassador for the JCU Carroll Fund, and serves on the visual arts committee for The Carroll Review. Also, she is honored to have co-founded the Theatre Club at John Carroll University. Other than writing, some of Alissa's favorite hobbies include musical theater, vocal performance, fashion, dance and cheerleading/acrobatics. After graduation, Alissa plans to write for children's entertainment.

To contact Alissa, email her at [email protected].

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