Wednesday, December 20, 2023

Farewell Hofstra & Dear Freshman Me

Farewell Hofstra by Logan Grasso (Right)

It's been four years apart from myself now, and so it's become hard to recognize that person anymore. I was asked what I would tell the Freshman version of me now that I'm graduating. I'm sure there are plenty of ways I could prepare that kid. There's advice I could give like I gave so many others that weren't myself. And yet, if I had the opportunity to tell him something, I don't think that I would say a single word. 

There's a difference between foresight and hindsight. It's easy to look back at something after the fact, regardless of the experience being a difficult one even, and appreciate that for helping you to grow as a person. It's not so easy looking at hardship ahead of yourself and thinking it'll be all worth that trouble when you finish enduring it. 

I wouldn't be able to tell myself it'd be okay in the end, not for the sake of lying or giving a shred of hope, but because that isn't my decision to make. Who I was then and who I am now are different and it would be a crazy thing to ask that kid to go through what I did for my sake. 

But I'm here at the end waiting should my past self decide to go through it all. I'm here waiting to not say congratulations or to express how proud I am. Rather, I'm here to say "thank you" for making that tough call and never giving up. Because I never did it for myself and I know neither did he. 

Dear Freshman Me by Rida Shah (Middle)

Dear Freshman Rida, I would like to start and congratulate you on accomplishing a great feat that many do not have the privilege to do. It will be a bittersweet journey in which you will face many challenges and question yourself but don’t worry, those you meet along the way will help you more than you can ever imagine. These friends, peers, and mentors will push you to explore your interests and achieve many accomplishments that will help you down the line in real-world experiences. You will have to wake up early in the morning and stay awake until late into the night, pushing yourself to your own limits and passing them- creating new ones, to achieve your dreams. Do not worry if you feel lonely because the next moment you will have an abundance of people who care, surrounding you with that warm fuzzy feeling that made the Grinch’s heart grow. It has been a long journey with many ups and downs but all your hard work has paid off and you have acquired a degree from a prestigious university, one that you may share with pride. I wish you all the best and hope you will always believe in yourself- as I believe in you. Best, Graduating Senior Rida <3

Tuesday, December 5, 2023

Parents Need Friends, Too


Parents Need Friends, Too

By Stephanie Kepke

Close your eyes and let the years spin back to your student’s early childhood. What do you remember? Maybe the beautiful chaos of small children is the first thing that pops into your mind. Or perhaps, you recall how easy it was to make friends. Pre-school pickup, play dates at the park, endless birthday parties. There was always an opportunity to chat with other parents and an opportunity to forge relationships based on your kids being in the same stage at the same time.

Those memories are so sweet. I still keep in touch with my first mommy friend almost a quarter century after we pushed our kids on the swings at our favorite park, pushed strollers around the mall on rainy days, and lifted the brightly colored parachutes at Gymboree. We’re literally half a world away from each other—she’s lived in Australia for two decades now—but that bond is unbreakable. Same goes for the other Gymboree moms with whom we became friends. We’re all still connected.

When we moved from Boston to Long Island (to my hometown) I easily made even more friends—with each kid, I met moms with whom to bond. But…as my kids grew, my ability to make new friends shrunk. It got harder and harder to meet new people. Without the communal experience of chatting while picking up our kids or sitting on the bleachers watching Little League, life felt more isolated, although I still adore all my mom friends from every era, of course. Covid was a nail in the coffin, moving PTA meetings, the one place I still socialized with a group of moms, to the virtual realm.

But then…something happened at around the same time covid hampered my in-person relationships—I met new friends. Yes, it started as in-person friends just before covid in the fall of 2019 (when my middle son started Hofstra), but grew into vibrant virtual connections that eventually transitioned back into the real world. You may wonder what I did as a fifty-something to finally make new friends. The answer…I joined Hofstra Parent and Family Council! We are a group of parents, guardians and family members dedicated to bridging the gap between home and Hofstra. Fostering a connection that is often overlooked when students leave for college is rewarding for parents, the university and the student body—everyone wins.

We gather for dinners; have our own cheering section at home basketball games; attend monthly meetings, which are on Zoom and always chock full of information (the last meeting of

the spring is in-person, as well as on Zoom); we support each other; and we care about all students, not just our own, raising funds for the Student Emergency Fund. (Parent and Family Council also presents monthly “Timely Topics” Zoom sessions, which are “must-see.”) Perhaps best of all, we have the amazing Branka Kristic, Director of Parent and Family Programs and Assistant Dean of Students, leading us. She is a gem who will guide you through any crisis that may arise with compassion and knowledge. And she facilitates that feeling that we are all there for one another.

And to be sure, members are so supportive of each other. I feel very fortunate that my fellow PFC members crowded a book store on an icy night last February for my book signing. It meant so much to me to look out at the audience and see my PFC friends. It really sent home the message that we are there for each other, beyond supporting our students and Hofstra.

The bond you form with parents of children in the same stage as yours is undeniably strong, even when those children are young adults. I have commiserated with other PFC parents of students struggling with the same issues mine have struggled with (I currently have a senior and a sophomore at Hofstra), and it helps to not feel alone. I would argue that with the stakes being so much higher in college than they were when we were young parents chatting at school pick-up, it’s even more important to have friends with kids in the same stage. Having others who understand the parenting struggles and challenges of raising children who are on the cusp of full-fledged adulthood is priceless. (And yes, I know they’re adults at eighteen, but having raised three humans, one of whom is twenty-five and “fully adult,” living on his own, I still think of college age as “almost adult.”)

So, join us…whether it’s for a fun Zoom event or to cheer on Hofstra’s basketball team or to sit around a table enjoying delicious dishes and sparkling conversation (if you’re local or visiting), you will be glad you did—and you may even make one or two (or several!) new friends.