Ivy Leaf - Spring 2006
From the Editor
I often say that one of the greatest aspects of my job is getting to meet so many remarkable students when researching and writing stories for Ivy Leaf. While this remains true, Ivy Leaf has provided me with yet another opportunity to get to know our talented students.
Last year, through our academic internship program, I set up an internship position for one student to work on Ivy Leaf each semester. In the Spring 2005 edition, Robin Akinwale's name appeared under the list of contributing writers; this 2005 Communications graduate was our first intern and a pleasure with whom to work.
The list of contributing writers for this edition includes Donna Swope, our academic intern for the spring 2006 semester. While Donna may tell you that working in the office of University Relations has been a rewarding experience, I feel compelled to share what an incredible experience it has been for me to work with Donna.
Donna is 51 years old, having reentered the academic world after raising two children and going through an unexpected and painful divorce. While battling a number of serious health issues this year, Donna sits in classes next to people more than 30 years her junior and remains enthusiastic, optimistic, and dedicated to feeding her mind and spirit.
After having maintained her own home and family for years, Donna was forced to move back home with her mother and dad to pursue her education full-time. Rather than complain about her predicament, Donna makes the most of it, attending campus and community cultural activities. One thing I've learned about Donna—she may go to an event alone, but by the end of it, she has gotten to know at least one new person. Many of these people are our students, and some of the stories in this issue are the direct result of Donna coming to our weekly Monday morning staff meetings and saying, "I met a really neat student this weekend." Cassie Ross, featured on p. 24, is one of these students. Using one of the free symphony tickets available in the Student Life office, Donna ended up sitting near Cassie, struck up a conversation, and an Ivy Leaf story was born.
Too often we hear our students complain that there is nothing to do on campus or in the community. I would direct them to talk to Donna. She has told me that "life is what you make of it." She has found that there is plenty to do if you take the initiative to find it and go, rather than wait for it to find you or for a personal invitation.
I have also seen Donna grow as a writer this semester, which has allowed me to experience some of the joy that I imagine professors experience. Admittedly, the first story Donna submitted to me needed a bit of work; after working with her on writing techniques and story development, Donna's final draft was excellent. What a great feeling it was for me to see her "get it"—and to see the joy on her face when she realized her hard work had paid off.
"When life hands you lemons, make lemonade." When I hear that expression from now on, I know I'll think of Donna Swope.