HILLIS: No such thing as an average Marquette student

Helen_cutoutWhen a limited space of 93 acres and 14 academic buildings is shared by 8,000 undergraduates, it is easy to fall into the category of “average.”

Most people on this campus would probably tell you the average Marquette student comes from a Chicago suburb, owns a puffy winter coat and drinks Starbucks religiously. However, when pressed for more details, they might have difficulty elaborating on the specific attributes that make up this “average student.” If we don’t take the time to recognize those details that differentiate us, we will never truly appreciate what an outstanding place Marquette is.

I may own a North Face jacket and an infinite amount of Marquette gear, but that doesn’t make me average. Let me tell you why:

For 15 years I Irish danced competitively. I hopped around the United States, England and Ireland in my sparkly dress and stare-grabbing wig. When I wasn’t on the road, I spent six days a week practically trapped in my dance studio.

In high school, I never stayed in my hometown for more than three weeks at a time. Why does this matter? Because it has instilled within me a sense of never wanting to stay in the same place for too long.

I’m a tour guide. Don’t bother looking for me on Twitter; you’d unfollow me anyway. #TGlyfe.

I just returned from a semester in Santiago, Chile. I learned Spanish. I ate a lot of bread and drank a lot of wine. I greeted people with a kiss on the cheek. I didn’t want to leave.

My parents had their first date at Busch Stadium in 1975. Ever since then my family has believed that the St. Louis Cardinals are the greatest team in baseball.

Half of the things in my apartment are monogrammed. The other half have been hiking with me through Patagonia, Machu Picchu and Alaska.

I am not the average Marquette student, and neither are you. You may have a lanyard hanging out of your back pocket, you may have wandered down Kilbourn freshmen year looking for parties, but you are not average. Why? Because your past experiences probably differ greatly from mine.

There is no better example than my good friend, Olivia. At first glance, you might quickly judge  Olivia by her J. Crew wardrobe and address in the suburbs north of Chicago. But my favorite thing about Olivia isn’t her closet, it’s when she quotes South Park or challenges strangers to krumping competitions (for those of you who don’t know what “krumping” is, YouTube it).  There are plenty of Olivias on our campus – seemingly average but surprisingly unique.

While giving tours, families have asked me to describe the average Marquette student. I simply cannot do it. Why does there have to be an average Marquette student? I have never come across two students here who are truly the same. When we call ourselves average, we hinder our ability to achieve greatness. We block our creativity, our individuality, whatever makes us “us.”

As we start the semester, my hope is that we are able to erase the word “average” from our vocabulary.

Our motto tells us to “Be the Difference,” so how different can we truly be?

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