As I sit down to write this article, I can’t help but reflect on my journey through college — a journey marked by unexpected turns and transitions that have shaped not only my academic path, but also my sense of belonging within the Goshen College community.

Like many others, my college experience began with the excitement of dorm life, late-night study sessions and minuscule hallway conversations. However, due to unforeseen financial constraints, my second year took a different course — one that led me away from the familiar comforts of residence halls and into the realm of commuter life. 

Transitioning from residential life to commuter life wasn’t merely a change in address, it was a shift in perspective — a shift that allowed me to experience the unique challenges and opportunities faced by students who travel the roads to campus daily. Suddenly, my college experience was intertwined with early morning commutes and the constant juggling of academic pursuits with off-campus responsibilities.

Without a doubt, the commuter experience exemplifies resilience, adaptability, and the determined endeavor of academic excellence and personal development amid daily commutes. The college experience for many commuters, myself included, is not just about the physical distance being bridged, but a psychological and emotional journey too. It’s about searching for a sense of belonging in a community that sometimes feels distant. 

Despite these circumstances, there exists a powerful reminder of the transformative power of college — the power of getting involved. Despite the many miles and traffic lights that separate us from campus, we still have the power to immerse ourselves in the rich culture of campus life, forge connections, and leave our mark on the Goshen College community.

If there is a thread that binds us together, it would be involvement — the reminder that regardless of our living circumstances, we are all essential members of the community that forms Goshen College. Involvement is more than just an extracurricular activity, it is a key to community engagement, meaningful friendships, and personal growth. Whether you join a club, volunteer for a cause, or attend a campus event, involvement creates a sense of connection and purpose that goes beyond the boundaries of walls and miles.  

Personally, I have internalized this philosophy by actively participating in various campus organizations and leadership roles. For the past two years, I’ve led the Latino Student Union and Prevention Intervention Network, served as an orientation leader, and my freshman year held the position of student senate vice-president.

I’ve also enjoyed artistic expression my freshman year through the Low Voice choir “Vox Profundi” and participating in the spring musical “Into The Woods.” Recently, I’ve joined the Coordinated Community Response Team student subcommittee, contributing to campus safety initiatives. 

As you can imagine, being involved is not just a pastime for me — it’s my passion; connecting with people is my calling. That’s why I’ve taken it upon myself to assume various roles on campus. As I’ve expressed before, getting involved is the key to connection. But how do you get involved? 

Firstly, it’s essential to know your interests, but also be open to trying new things. For instance, although I’m not inherently musically inclined, I joined the choir and participated in the spring musical. These experiences allowed me to meet and connect with a diverse range of people. 

Secondly, make it a habit to check your email and read the Communicator every day. Professors and student clubs frequently promote their events through these channels.

Lastly, when you attend events, interact with others. Try to strike up conversations with new people, including organizers. Connect with others, but be intentional about it. Building connections on campus enriches not only your college experience but also your personal and professional growth.

So, to my fellow commuters and campus residents alike, I extend an invitation — an invitation to embrace the commuter experience not as a limitation but as an opportunity; an opportunity to defy distance, bridge divides, and create a college experience that is uniquely our own. Let us seize the road less traveled, navigate its twists and turns with courage and conviction, and together, let us write the next chapter in the story of Goshen College.

Fernando is a sophomore at Goshen College, born and raised in Colombia. He is currently pursuing a double major in business and PJCS. Outside of his academic pursuits, Fernando enjoys spending time with friends and staying connected with his family in Colombia through regular calls.