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Wanna change your life?

I did it! Four years, one term and a few thousand dollars in debt, and I’m about to graduate. They will give me that piece of paper to validate the time I spent here.

Friends and relatives will congratulate me and ask me if I’m glad its all over (which I am), and I will think back fondly, trying to identify the most memorable moment of my college career.

Instead, I’m going to mount my high horse, something I have not done in the three years I have worked for this paper.

I will most remember my involvement in a student organization more than any other college experience.

I have looked around in frustration these four years at students who pretend not to notice anyone else, and I wonder why they don’t care. They attend school here too, right?

Do they know that Portland State has an Institute on Aging? Do they know our professors worked for one year without a contract? Do they know the president’s name? Do they know what their student fees pay for?

I had good times at Portland State and I’m glad I attended school here. But I wonder if I would be half as glad if I had never walked into the Vanguard office and gotten a job as a reporter.

I never would have known even half of what I know about the university and about Portland. I never would have found a career path that personally satisfied me. I never would have made the kinds of friends I have now. I never would have met the love of my life.

I have covered a protest on campus and Al Gore’s campaign tour. I wrote a story making public the administration’s unauthorized use of student fees to pay the athletic department’s debt service, a practice since abolished. I challenged Oregon state law regarding student disciplinary records. President Bernstine knows my first and last name.

Sure, it sounds cheesy – Get Involved! Rah, rah, rah! – but the rewards are great.

This is what I learned at PSU. This is what defined my education. I learned what makes this university go ’round – the good and the bad.

Students involved in student groups, and the university, know that other students will rarely show up for events. I know that many students have never read the Vanguard, or have only read it once or twice.

The students here get involved because that is what they want to do. They will work to make a difference even if their voices are the only ones of 19,029 students that are heard.

Yet these hard-working students still try, every day, to leave Portland State a little better than how they found it. The involved know the rewards of a successful event, another tuition freeze, or a well-written story. We just wish the rest of you could know too.

For all those who have some time left here, attend a school play, listen to a lecture outside of class, vote in ASPSU elections, listen to a noon-time concert.

For those of you donning the cap and gown with me, make life after college rewarding too. Community involvement matters no matter what community you belong too.

It changed my life; it could change yours too.