College is hard. Moving is hard. Making a new place feel like home is hard. But from the second I stepped foot on campus, I felt comfortable.

As I walked around campus after my tour, I remember that I looked around and just felt safe. I remember sitting with my mom in Appalachian Collegiate Center and her telling me that she could really see me here. She was right.

My time at Binghamton University has not been easy. I lived off campus all four years, which made making friends difficult. I was too anxious and scared to join clubs, plus nothing really fit my interests. Freshman year flew by. Sophomore year, my anxiety medicine stopped working, and I couldn’t function. I even spent part of my junior year adjusting to medications. That fall, I suffered from such bad migraines that I took a trip to the hospital. The summer entering senior year changed everything for me.

Last summer, I got an internship at a newspaper as a breaking news journalist. This was completely new for me, but it was the most fun I had ever had. I knew that journalism would be my career. In the fall, I joined Pipe Dream.

Joining Pipe Dream was honestly one of the best decisions of my life. I got to cover stories, meet people, build my skills and explore the community. I learned how to use a camera and spent a lot of time at sporting events. I got to work with UPD for police watch and literally, just this past weekend, got treated like a celebrity at Dos Rios because of it. Police Watch was also the most fun I may have had during my time on Pipe Dream. Most importantly, I made friends. The people I met during my time on News and Photo are some of the best people out there. Pipe Dream members share my passions and make me excited for the future of journalism.

Because of my time on Pipe Dream, I decided to apply to graduate school. Seriously, there’s a direct correlation. A representative from my future school spoke to us in the Pipe Dream office and directly after, I called my mom and told her I wanted to apply. Now by fall 2020, I’ll have my MA in journalism.

So, some things I learned from all of this: Believe in yourself, break out of your shell, follow your passions, put your physical and mental health first and sometimes you just have to try something new.

My time at BU has taught me more than I ever imagined. I became an adult, and honestly, I figured myself out. Mostly.

And now, I need to shout out some amazing people.

To my parents: Thank you for your endless support. Thank you for helping me to get to Binghamton and for all the advice when I struggled here. Thank you for supporting me always. I am who I am because of you. Oh, and thanks for letting me move back in as I push myself into debt. I love you endlessly.

To my sister, Kate: I know I have been difficult to deal with. Thank you for tolerating me (enough) and for hanging out with me, because, let’s be real, I have few friends.

To my brother, John: Thank you for introducing me to Dinosaur Bar-B-Que. I’ll never be the same.

To my Nanny: I know you’d be proud of me. I think about you every day. I know you’ll be cheering me on as I cross that stage. I miss you.

To everyone on News, but especially Sasha: You guys have made News my home. Being your reporter has been an honor, and I can’t wait to see where the section goes next year. Best of luck. And feel free to visit me at CUNY.

To Photo: You guys were also like my family. Rose, Theo, Sid, Rebecca, Ariel, you guys welcomed me in and taught me so much. You are all amazing, and I’m so happy we’ve met. And Rose, thank you for training me. I owe so much to you.

To the faculty: You guys are awesome. You taught me so much, but also helped me learn who I am.

Christine DeRosa is a senior double-majoring in classical and Near Eastern studies and English. She is a contributing writer for news and a staff photographer.