Three blank lines stared back at me from the bottom third of a glossy sheet of folded cardstock. Initially, when I had arrived home and my mom handed me a pile of my mail sent to the house, I figured I’d be skimming through Cosmo, slipping Victoria’s Secret coupons into my purse, and carrying the remains of the flimsy pile to the recycle box. Most of the mail would be trash anyway.
But then I came across the thin Arcadia University envelope.
Setting aside Carrie Underwood’s article for a later date, I tore the envelope open and removed an order form for a personalized paver for the Walk of Pride.
If you’ve visited campus before, you will most likely have seen the Walk of Pride. This massive brick and cobblestone pathway cuts directly through campus from one side to the other and is heavily laden with foot traffic every day as students, faculty, and visitors make their way to their destinations across campus. It is a practical way to travel and, if you listen closely, it provides the area with that quaint, historic feel as the footsteps of travelers clip-clomp across the cobblestones. However, this road also contains a rich past.
Studded periodically along the walkway are pavers inscribed with the years of different graduating classes. And if you purchase a paver at the end of your time here at Arcadia, you can add a brick with your own personal message to the Walk of Pride, forever marking your place at Arcadia.
I held the thick order form in my hands. I had seen the different names inscribed in brick on my daily travels up and down (and up again) the Walk of Pride. When a winter wind blusters in your face during the steep hike on your way home from a long class, you better believe it that your head is down and your eyes are focused on the ground, trying to read the pavers to distract yourself from the bitter cold. In the spring, when the aura of accomplishment is in the air after a long year of hard work, the names of those who came before you jump out among the blossoming flowers and twittering birds. On campus, we’re always surrounded by the students who have left an imprint.
And so as soon as I read the form, I knew I wanted to add my name to the stone-carved list of success. But my pen didn’t move and I hesitated with apprehension.
I had 3 lines of 15 characters to work with for my brick. How could I sum up my experience at Arcadia in a total of 45 characters or less? I could barely compose a tweet; I was such a lover of words!
I sat at the island, my brow furrowed and my pen scribbling down different combinations of letters on a block of Post-it notes. My name had to be on there, that was for sure. But what else would I write with my other two lines? Who was I? Who had Arcadia helped me become in these past three years? There simply weren’t enough characters in the English language to help me fully communicate that.
In that moment, I realized it wasn’t the message I chose that was the important part. If I cracked a joke, it might not be funny to future students. If I went with something more sincere, people might read it and think it was cliché or sarcastic. What mattered most was the fact that I was a part of Arcadia and I was giving back to the place that had given me so much.
Suddenly, my pen soared over the order form and I neatly wrote down my final words. I sealed the envelope and slipped it in the mailbox out front, excited for graduation day when I will become part of Arcadia’s esteemed past.