All of the good and bad times I have had here I am thankful for. Throughout my trials and tribulations as a student at WVU, I have met some of the most wonderful, inspiring, and unique people I think I will ever come across in my lifetime. I love getting to know different types of people and the different cultures they come from. I believe that my major at the Perley Issac Reed School of Journalism has given an amazing opportunity to meet these people, without a doubt.
As May Commencement approaches, I have been thinking about WVU and the state of West Virginia and what things about it I miss the most. Every moment I have had here will be held close in my heart, and with those moments…all of people I have met throughout my time here.
Today, I went with two of my classmates to an occupational therapy horse farm as part of a multimedia project for one of my capstone classes. While I was there I met a guy. He was only a couple of years older than me and had bright blonde hair cut close to his head, with youthful bright eyes that observed everything beyond the boundaries of anyone I have ever met. He stood at about five-foot, seven inches and wore a smile on his face that was as wide as the sea. He was kind of shy when we first laid eyes on each other, but when he reached out his hand to meet mine-we clicked. His name was Jacob, but everyone calls him Jay for short. My new friend Jacob has autism.
I got to talk to his therapist Carol, and speak with his mother and mother’s aid as he rode his horse on the ½ mile trail; working on his posture, communication skills, and actively alerting his central nervous system that will eventually help him catch a ball and throw it back to me.
I had never met someone with autism before and until today I was unaware of how horseback riding can actually improve so many fundamental skills that humans take for granted every day. I was grateful to meet Jacob and his family, and if it wasn’t for this project I wouldn’t have learned so much today that isn’t your everyday information that you can get in a classroom. The professors teach exceptionally well inside the classroom, but when they encourage us to connect with the community they really give us a chance to learn and expand our knowledge.
Whether it is an interview for my WVU News package, shooting b-roll for my multimedia class’ project, or even going to a presentation by a guest speaker hosted by the school and meeting fellow peers, I have made some of the most wonderful connections that could help me in my future. After graduation, I know I will miss learning about things the way I have at the SOJ, but I have learned skills that will give me the confidence to go out into the real world and continue to make new connections, learn, and grow.