By Jen Almjeld,the faculty adviser at The Progress.

I hate goodbyes. Always have. As a little kid I hated to say “goodnight” to friends and return home with my folks. Now I’m always the last to leave a party or to reach for my wallet in order to wrap up a lunch date. I hate to leave when things are going well and when there is fun to be had or when there is the possibility I might miss something.

That’s why leaving The Progress and Eastern is proving tougher than I imagined. As an undergrad all I wanted was my diploma and deliverance from deadlines and crazy Tuesday nights at the student newspaper. I longed to start my “real life” away from college.

So I made my way out into real life and soon found myself back at Eastern as a graduate student. Although I enjoyed my time in the English department graduate program, I saw it only as a steppingstone. It was a means to an end to get me to my life’s work. It was a hurdle to overcome before finally living the life I was meant to live.

I sort of saw my position as the adviser of The Progress in the same way. It was a wonderful job, an important job, but for me it was also temporary. It was where I would spend a couple of years preparing to move onto the next phase of my life – more graduate school – in an effort to finally nail down my future. The Progress was a resting place before committing to the business of living my life outside of my hometown.

What I didn’t realize, and what many students don’t realize, is that college is more than a checkpoint, more than a waiting room.

Quite to my surprise I did a lot of living within the walls of this university. I met good friends, had a lot of fun, was involved in students’ lives and helped in at least a small part to create some tangible bit of Eastern history and capture it in newsprint 30 times a year.

It’s not until now, while preparing to clean out my office, that I realize how real this life at Eastern is. The decisions and problems and triumphs I had here are as important as any I will ever have. I wish I would have known it sooner.

I would have savored it more. I wouldn’t have gotten as bogged down in grading and paying bills and I would have realized how lucky I was to be here.

So while it is tough to leave – knowing how great my students are, how supportive faculty members can be, how much I would still like to accomplish – I can leave to pursue new things because of the time I spent at Eastern.

As our new Progress adviser Steve Dozier, a nationally known journalist, prepares to take the reigns, I will advise him to enjoy the craziness and to embrace the challenges. Because before he knows it time will come for him to say “goodbye.” I just hope he will leave with all the great memories I am taking with me.