Knabb: ‘Nova’s true colors run deeper than blue and white

Justin Runquist

So here it is: my first crack at a column in The Villanovan. I could have started with a profound comment or joke, but instead, I’ll simply say, “This is for you, Mom.” You can’t go wrong with an opening like that, right?Don’t expect to read any articles on politics or campus muckraking from me. Don’t expect me to follow the typical journalistic rules. This is freedom of speech, and I’ll write what’s on my mind and in my heart. I’ll write about what’s important to me.That’s the approach I took last Sunday, when I promoted Campus Ministry during new student orientation. There I stood in the cinema, in front of about 700 strangers during the course of the day, and I shared the story of my summer. I might as well share it with you, too.I admitted to them that I had a tough summer. I wish I could have returned to school with a tan and a girlfriend. That’s probably more of what they wanted to hear, too. But that’s OK.Instead, I told them about my mother. I mentioned that I held my mother’s hand as she passed away this summer. Now, I wasn’t looking for sympathy then, and I’m certainly not looking for depressed readers for my first column. Remember, I was there to promote Villanova’s campus ministry.See, I discovered the magic in the hearts of my fellow Villanovans last month. Several dorm buddies and friends drove from Philly, and flew from as far as Boston and Florida to show support. Others showered my family with e-mails and meals. Administrators and old professors sent cards and flowers. Even our Catholic campus ministers and a priest ventured into my Protestant church to pay tribute.These were the true colors of Villanova. It would be a crime for me to hold my discovery inside. There are incredible people on this campus. I hope the people around you are the types you want to celebrate with on weekends, yet want to lean on during life’s toughest times. Fortunately I have friends like that. People here have a genuineness and love for life like my mom had. So many Villanovans think the way my mom did: that we’re all human, here to make the most of this life and to help each other through it. It’s so easy for us to point out our flaws each day, whether we joke about our need for Diesel shoes or our poor diversity.Look past all that, already. Forget complaining. Look at the standing-room-only crowd at our church each Sunday. Look at the overflowing sign-ups for Habitat or mission trips each break. Look at the electricity on campus during Orientation, during Homecoming, during Special Olympics and on and on. There’s an awful lot to be happy about here.When you lose a parent, or someone very close to you, life stands still. For example, that C from last semester means nothing. The fight with your ex-girlfriend means even less. When tragedy hits, you instantly realize what’s important. A few freshmen introduced themselves after my talk on Sunday. One lost her father two years ago, one lost her best friend this summer and another simply wanted to start a friendship. We all share similar hardships. We all have a story to tell. I would love more people to reach out to others or myself like those students did.I hope you can experience Villanova’s true colors during your time here. The first step is looking for the good in everything around you. The second step might be sharing yourself with others, even if they are 700 complete strangers or an entire campus on an idle Friday.I’ll close as I started. That was for you, Mom.Justin Knabb is an occasional contributor to The Villanovan.