It’s hard to believe that today marks my final day at Trinity. When you’ve spent 13 of the last 17 years at one place, a 500-word farewell column presents quite a challenge … especially for someone who has never embraced the virtue of brevity. How can one encapsulate the milestones, the memories, the emotions and the impact of a place that has served as a personal and professional home for such a significant portion of my life?

You can’t … so I won’t even try. Instead, I’ll attempt to make my final words compelling by offering up three things:  a Confession, a Revelation and a Truth.

Confession: When I was a first-year student, I … (you’re not going to believe this) … did not … (it’s time for the truth to come out) … enjoy … (brace yourself) … Playfair. That’s right, the Orientation guy greatly disliked his own Playfair experience. Scandalous, I know.

Now, to be fair, my lack of enjoyment had much to do with the fact that we were outside in 100 degree heat with a billion percent humidity and mosquitoes the size of LeeRoy making a meal of my posterior.

But in all honesty, the extreme extrovert you see today had not shown himself at 18.

Back then, I didn’t get what all the fuss was about, but after six years of coordinating New Student Orientation, I most certainly do now. Nothing else can break down the walls like 90 minutes of Playfair.

For some reason, students embrace that experience the way I wish we’d embrace life — with a touch of reckless abandon, a willingness to engage the unknown and a welcome absence of cool-kid personas.

While Playfair everyday would be exhausting (and might possibly cause the introverts among us to hyperventilate), there is something powerful in that experience that translates nicely to one’s education … you know, minus the dancing.

Revelation: You can love Trinity … and not always be in love with Trinity. It’s a relationship like any other, and any relationship worth maintaining across a lifetime will have its ups and downs. One might think after choosing to be an active part of the Trinity community for 13 years that I’d be the ultimate homer, but that’s just not the case.

In addition to the joys and successes, I’ve experienced my fair share of disappointment and frustration. I’ve been told no when I expected to hear yes, and I’ve been befuddled by decisions from time to time.

But here’s the thing, no matter how frustrated or disappointed I’ve been, I’ve always had faith in this institution. That’s why I’ve stayed when others might have gone, and that’s why I will forever remain a proud, committed and contributing alumnus.

Trinity for me is defined by a legacy of excellence and a commitment to students that is lived out at all levels.

Don’t let isolated moments of angst define your relationship to this place. Trinity and its lasting impact on your life are far bigger than those moments.

Truth: Trinity University is truly an exceptional place. Across the years, I’ve heard a consistent lament regarding Trinity’s lack of national recognition, but unless you’re an Ivy or boast a successful Division I football team, it’s hard to achieve the kind of national recognition we all covet. That kind of recognition is hard to come by, but that doesn’t mean the quality and caliber of this institution has gone unnoticed.

While I’d love to believe my new role was earned solely by my exceptional talent, winning personality and quick wit, it was clear throughout my interview that my connection to Trinity was an incredible asset. I think often we define ourselves by what we are not or who we aspire to be rather than acknowledging our significant strengths and positive attributes. Hmm … maybe there’s a lesson about personal self-image hidden in there as well.

Okay, so I’ve exceeded my word count already, but I had some big things to say, and I hope you’ll indulge me one more.

Students, it has been a privilege and a pleasure to be a part of your educational experience. I have seen your potential and it is truly impressive. You have it in you to change the world in ways both big and small but in all ways significant. I am proud to know you and to one day call you fellow alums. You have enriched my life daily and made the work I do so very rewarding. While I am excited for what’s ahead, I know I am leaving part of my heart behind.

Thanks for everything Trinity! You will always be treasured.

Ben Newhouse is the outing assistant director of Campus and Community Involvement