On an average day at Knox you might run into a bright neon figure, usually on their bike, maybe wearing their beanie, but definitely with headphones on if they’re not talking to someone. That new face on campus would be me, Joey Peterson, and I’m a first-year transfer student. I also have the pleasure of calling Galesburg the place that I grew up in.
Wait, does that make me a… a townie?! I guess so — but that’s a label I will wear proudly. Something that I have learned in my first year at Knox is that there is enormous diversity, a lot of different labels that people express and identify with. People from different countries, religions, gender, sexualities, etc.
Being from Galesburg and a transfer student, I feel like I have a very unique perspective on how I perceive my life through Knox. Transfer students and townies both have a stigma and stereotype attached to them. Personally, I have perceived that transfer kids seem to be overlooked in traditional four year schools. This could be for a number of reasons. However, the one that stood out to me was that we aren’t straight out of high school and making this big life decision for the first time. We’ve already been through the whole orientation process; we started the race awhile ago. The hardest part I think for some of the other Galesburg transfer students is that most live off campus. Some have jobs off campus as well so it’s very easy to treat school as something purely for academic purposes.
I didn’t want to stay isolated in my Galesburg bubble. I always knew Knox did its own things and my interactions with Knox growing up here was not that noticeable. I went to Illinois State then Carl Sandburg and took a gap year. In those three years I had little connection with the schools. What I was involved with was myself and developing a sense of identity, because I did not know who I was, I just knew what I wasn’t.
Turning my “I am nots” into “I ams” was a major shift in how I perceived myself and helped in my immersion into things that brought a sense of accomplishment and joy. By the time I got to Knox, I had a stable and moldable idea of myself and was ready for my experience at Knox to help bring something that I can display proudly and say “Damn. That’s me”.
I’ve been able to give back to my community through volunteering. Reading Buddies and Bright Futures preschool are pretty cool opportunities to give back to so if you are into helping kids out, you should look into it! I’ve made some awesome friends through clubs (Shout out to Improv, Nerf and Friends of Green Oaks!). Even just running into people in the Gizmo or at Jazz Nights, I’m going out and doing things, sometimes by myself and leaving with a smile and a story.
I’m finding ways to express myself and interact with people who are doing the same. It’s amazing how many neat interactions you can have on campus just because you’ve had a really swell conversation with them. I love the discourse on Knox and this column is going to further that cause: for myself, for Knox, and for you guys, the readers.