Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Grief in the Land of Beer Pong: Reflecting back on my college days

I graduated from Syracuse University in 2004. Now, 5 years later, I'm going back to visit for the first time since graduation. I leave in 2 days!

College was a mixed experience for me. I made the most amazing friends (still some of my closest), got an incredible education which shaped my career in magazine journalism, and really grew and found myself -- whether through playing drums in my band or falling in (and horribly out) of love.

But college was different for me than it was for most people. My mom was diagnosed with cancer a few months before I received my letter of acceptance from SU. Leaving my family to attend school 5 hours away left me worried and guilt-ridden and lonely at times. Nights were often spent chatting on the phone with my mom instead of goofing off with my new friends. And during the summer between my sophomore and junior years -- smack in the middle of my college experience -- my mom passed away. My last two years at Syracuse were spent grieving in the land of beer pong.

Despite (or in spite) of everything, I'm going back to SU to do something I always dreamed of: talking to the students. I'll chat with them about my job as a web editor for Prevention magazine, but my focus will be job hunting and The Resume Hero, a resume and cover letter side business my boyfriend Mark and I created.

Don't worry about me, though. My super-awesome ex-Prevention.com intern, another Marissa B. (can you believe it?), will escort me around and even put me up on her couch. I'm lucky to have such an upbeat, sassy gal by my side during a trip that's bound to be nostalgic and emotional even beyond my expectations.

I'll report back either from campus or as soon as I get back on Saturday. Wish me luck!



  1. Hi- I'm sorry to hear about your mom. I'm a student at UC Berkeley who just returned to school after withdrawing for two years due to the illness (and subsequent death) of my father from brain cancer.

    I just wanted to let you know that there is an organization that is giving college bereavement more awareness: National Students of Ailing Mothers & Fathers (http://studentsofamf.org/). If you by chance run across any college students who are experiencing grief, you could direct them to this site.

    Again, I'm really sorry. I know what it feels like to lose a parent in the midst of college :(

  2. Hi sedaris1010. Thanks so much for commenting on my blog.

    I'm sorry to hear about your father passing away. I'm sure this semester is not the easiest, but I'm really proud of you for returning to school. I'm sure it is important to your dad that you earn your degree. I know that was very important to my mom.

    I had never heard of the National Students of Ailing Mothers and Fathers. We didn't have a chapter at Syracuse University -- at least not yet (I'll try my best to start one!). What an amazing organization! Thank you so much for introducing it to me. I may reach out to them to see if there's a way to work together.

    It's so nice to hear from someone who's been in my same shoes. I hope you continue to read and comment, and thanks again. You can always email me directly at marisa.bardach@gmail.com.