Senior Column: Living a “Thoreau” life at John Carroll


Photo courtesy of Josie Schuman

Josie Schuman, Managing Editor

“I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, to discover that I had not lived. I did not wish to live what was not life, living is so dear; nor did I wish to practice resignation, unless it was quite necessary. 

I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life.

          — Henry David Thoreau

When I sat down to meet with my adviser, Dan Reynolds, for the last semester of scheduling, he reviewed my degree evaluation with awe. My biggest cheerleader over the past four years, he said, “You have a double major, a minor, you’re an honors student and you studied abroad. You really have sucked the marrow out of your college experience. I’m proud of you.” 

Humbled, as I usually felt after leaving a meeting with Dan, he made me realize that I have made the most of my four years at John Carroll University. As a senior, I am so grateful that I can say this because, as a freshman, I was wary to venture out of my comfort zone.

One of the lowest hands in Euchre that a player can get. We always took pictures to document when we got an especially low and an especially high hand. (Photo courtesy of Josie Schuman)

As I moved my belongings into Campion Hall, I felt indifferent. I live only 25 minutes away from John Carroll, and it was always just “the college down the road.” It was nothing special. After we unpacked my things, I said goodbye to my mom and, I’ll admit, felt a twinge of sadness, which was quickly assuaged by the fact that I would be going home for the weekend. 

I hung out with my high school friends, most of whom lived on my floor. Shoutout to Maria, Paige, Katie and Kevin, who always made the walk from Pacelli rain or shine. Believe it or not, we bonded over the card game euchre. We played thousands of games freshman year. We played whenever we had a free minute — in our dorm rooms, elbow lounges, even the Caf — and we made the best memories doing it. These people brought me so much joy, support, comfort and late night runs to Arby’s. 

But this comfort was both a blessing and a curse. Content with my high school friends, I did not meet any new people, which made for a lonely sophomore year. Maria transferred to Kent and the rest of us were scattered across different dorms. Academics became my only focus, and with no social life, I became extremely stressed and anxious. I was jaded, in a rut. I knew something had to give.

So, I took a big risk and planned to study abroad in Spain. I went from never leaving my comfort zone to leaping out of it. Desperate times call for desperate measures.

One month after I arrived in Spain, I went on a hike with other study abroad students to different beaches in Tarragona. (Photo courtesy of Josie Schuman)

I’m not going to bore you with the details of my life-changing experience, but it was just that. It gave me the confidence boost I needed. As the only JCU student at my location, I flew across the ocean alone to a new country where people barely spoke English. I went from making no friends to having no choice but to branch out. I traveled with complete strangers, danced at nightclubs and finally felt comfortable being alone. I’ll give myself a pat on the back for that. 

I came back to John Carroll with fresh eyes. I felt like I was at a brand new college, and I was determined to bring the same sense of adventure, passion and excitement that I felt in Spain into my everyday life. I wanted Ohio Josie to be just as fun as Spain Josie. 

Feeling energized by my study abroad experience, I discovered a new passion for teaching during my junior year. I remember so clearly sitting in Margaret Schauer’s Educational Philosophy and Instruction class watching a lecture by anti-racist scholar Bettina Love when I had a rare “aha” moment.

Some of my fellow Education majors after our senior banquet. (Photo courtesy of Josie Schuman)

I was inspired by Love’s approach to teaching students of color; she emphasized that teachers must uplift their joy and greatness rather than dwelling on their pain and struggles. This was a revolutionary idea for me — one that has propelled me into a vocation for urban teaching and empowering students of color. 

In addition to discovering my vocation, I also found my people. I might be biased, but teachers are simply the best. Shoutout to my fellow Education majors Maggie, Chloe, Lizzy, Jacob, Kevin, Andrew, Seth, Abbie, Blake, CJ, Alexa, Kayla and Joe. These people are truly inspirational, and I feel nothing but love for them all. They push me not only to be a better teacher but a better person. They have transformed my life, and I can only imagine how they will impact their students. 

Despite my newfound passion, my junior year was difficult. People came in and out of my life, leaving me confused and hurt. However, I found joy in my new roommates Kaitlyn and Delaney, who taught me that working out isn’t all that bad and that Oreos are best served with milk and peanut butter. Also, as dream team leaders of the Honors Program, Collin and I had a blast planning events with icebreakers that were only mildly painful. We discovered our favorite hobby of donating blood, which came with a new love of apple juice and Chips Ahoy cookies.

In Nogales, Arizona, my immersion group was acting crazy as usual. (Photo courtesy of Josie Schuman)

In the spring of my junior year, I had the privilege of traveling to the U.S.-Mexico border for an immersion trip. Together with my fierce leaders Ally, Cynthia, Sara Schiavoni and Andrea Bianchini and my incredible group Emily, Michael, Joe, Nick and Bella, we listened, we prayed, we cried, we shared, we learned. My immersion group’s thoughtful insight, loving spirit and dedication to justice helped me process that emotionally intense experience and continues to challenge me to incorporate what we learned into my life.  

I knew God wanted us to have this experience together because, days after we returned from the border, we were sent home because of the pandemic.

Just a few weeks ago, these wonderful women and I planned a COVID-19 safe homecoming party. Yes, we went all out. (Photo courtesy of Josie Schuman)

Though COVID-19 undoubtedly brought its challenges, it also brought me closer to my gang:  Caroline, Sophia, Gianna, Paige and Katie. When there’s a global pandemic, you can only hang out with so many people, and I am so lucky these were mine. The pandemic forced us to make the most of our time together in whatever way possible, which took the form of trivia nights, themed parties and countless games of Taco Cat Goat Cheese Pizza. Somehow, we’re still not sick of each other (I’m not, at least!). I am so grateful for this group of strong women, these lifelong friends who have remained unwavering at my side.

Last but not least, there was the curveball of The Carroll News. If it weren’t for Sophia, who called me and asked me to be an editor, I wouldn’t be writing this senior column. Thank you Sophia for seeing something in me that I didn’t see in myself. The Carroll News is the passion I didn’t know I had, and I am so fortunate that it found me. 

My experience at the newspaper has been invaluable.

The Carroll News has proved to me the power of writing and using my voice. As a staff, we used our platform to break stories that had a real impact on the John Carroll community. We reported on actual hard-hitting news, imagine that! That was never on my John Carroll bucket list. What an incredible opportunity — an honor — it has been to use writing to make a change in the world. This is something I can only hope to inspire my future students to do. 

Because of The Carroll News, I have lost countless hours of sleep, but I have gained a family. The previous staff, led by the fearless team of Olivia and Kathleen, brought me into the newsroom with open arms. The current staff has been a powerhouse as we seamlessly transitioned to an online environment. 

To Rachel, Nicolette, Kyle, Ella and Kaitlin, thank you for taking a chance on the Education major, believing in my leadership and teaching me so much along the way.

The 2019-2020 Carroll News staff got to meet Chuck Todd on the set of Meet the Press in Washington D.C. (Photo courtesy of Josie Schuman)

To Dr. B, thank you for bringing me into the field of journalism. I will always remember that it’s a discipline of verification. Thank you for your tireless dedication. I don’t know of many professors who would be willing to stay on Zoom past midnight to provide the support that you did. The newspaper will suffer a great loss next year. 

To Sophia, TJ and Nick, the pandemic newsroom crew, thank you for being the best part of every week. I cannot explain in words how much I cherish the many hours we have spent together — the Post-its on the quote wall, the debates about religion, the Tween food, coffee runs, the love life updates. You allowed me to be my most authentic self, supported me at my best and worst and always left me smiling when we left the newsroom, even at 3 a.m. 

I’ve had a vibrant John Carroll career — only thanks to all the people who have touched my life, those I mentioned and those I didn’t. If you told me during freshman year that I would feel this way at graduation, I wouldn’t have believed you. These people, these experiences, this place, has helped me to suck out all the marrow of the last four years. They have shaped me into the person I am today, the person I wanted to be. 

After four years at John Carroll, I’m a learner. 

I’m a teacher. 

I’m a journalist.

I’m an advocate. 

I’m strong. 

I’m adventurous. 

I’m confident. 

I’m prepared. 

          I’m content.