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OPINION: Student ready for another adventure

OPINION: Student ready for another adventure

By Jessica Rodriguez
Bridge Director of Photography and Social Media
Published Thursday, April 22, 2021

When I was a senior in high school, I used to equate success with leaving your hometown and starting fresh at a new college out of town. But just like many others, life happened and I ended up staying in Laredo. I didn’t know if I was sad or content, but I knew I just had to keep going and make the best out of my college experience at Texas A&M International University.

Jessica Rodriguez
Bridge director of photography and social media

Entering TAMIU, I didn’t really talk to anyone and I quit almost every club I tried to stick with. The classes were lackluster and nothing inspired me. I was sort of passing my college years by. My life was stagnant and I didn’t want to do anything. It wasn’t until I met Assistant Professional Thomas Brown in my Photography I class that my adventure began. I was encouraged by him and a classmate, Yensey Murillo, to join The Bridge independent student newspaper. Knowing myself and how often I quit things, I was hesitant to join and commit. Looking back, I was sort of like Bilbo Baggins from “The Hobbit” not wanting to leave the Shire—aka my comfort zone—to conquer a new quest. But true to Baggins’ style, I decided at the last minute to join and see where the long road took me.

I began as a photographer turning in photo assignments here and there. I then started to make friends with the members and I looked forward to the weekly meetings. I photographed lots of events and interviewed many people, most of which I won’t ever forget. More and more, I started to love photojournalism and I recognized my potential. I thought, “Hey, I’m doing something! This could be cool to carry on,” and I did just that for about two years. Finally, I was promoted to director of photography and social media, which I was extremely elated about. Many times it got difficult to balance my school work and my duties with these two new promotions but I tried my best. If you do something you love with people you admire, it’s worth the hassle and it never feels like work.

As sappy as it sounds, Brown and all The Bridge staff members have become sort of my home away from home. I’ll never forget the nights we spent at The Bridge office trying to finish our work, followed by deep conversations but also good laughs. I felt like I was part of a special pack of people for once. Although COVID-19 took away a year of us producing physical papers and meeting in person, it has definitely been a journey. I often wish time would move slower so I could enjoy my time here a bit longer, but my time is simply up.

As I get ready to graduate, I’m left to ponder all the experiences that led me to this place. When I think of college, I don’t think of the grades, I don’t think of the mean professors I had, I don’t think of the tireless nights accompanied by mental breakdowns; instead, I think of all the happy times that kept me afloat and made me a better person. I think part of my life’s journey was never to leave this town, but to explore it some more and see the gold it still has to offer.

To my readers, I’d just like to say that adventures start in the least-expected places. It’s just up to you on whether or not to leap and take them.

As my last farewell, I’d like to say thank you to all my colleagues—now turned good friends—for enriching my college years by working side-by-side with me. And to Mr. Brown, thank you for being the greatest professor and photography mentor I could have asked for. Because of all the people in The Bridge, I now know what I want to do with my life after college. Just like Bilbo, I’ve completed my journey and I’m off to the next one. And to that I say, “I’m quite ready for another adventure.”

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