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Student view: Reflecting on my time in JMC

February 14, 2022 - Emma LaRocca

Emma LaRocca is a senior studying social relations and policy from Petersburg, Michigan. Beginning her first year, LaRocca has worked as a communication assistant for James Madison College, and she also is a resident assistant in Holden Hall. After graduating this spring, LaRocca plans to attend graduate school to earn a master’s degree in public relations.

headshot of Emma LaRocca

I applied to James Madison College at the recommendation of my high school counselor. I was a 17-year old living in a small rural town who wanted to experience an atmosphere different from what I had known my whole life.

When I applied, I was so unsure of myself and my abilities. Not many people from my hometown come to MSU, so I was largely alone to figure out whether I would be successful at a place like Madison.

Getting out of my small hometown to attend MSU was very exciting, but there were hints of fear sprinkled throughout.

JMC is a small community within a large university, and I realized that I was able to get the best of both worlds. I walked into my first MC201 lecture with all 250 of my fellow freshmen, a number of students higher than my entire grades 7-12 high school, and realized I had an opportunity to start fresh.

Choosing Madison has helped me grow into the person I am today. Once full of self-doubt, I am proud to say I’ve found myself thriving. Juggling rigorous academics with the other parts of my life like work, activities and friends has helped prepare me for the demands of everyday life. This was never more apparent than when my college experience was completely transformed during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Of course, I missed the spirited debates in Case Hall lounges and the tight-knit classrooms of JMC that couldn’t be recreated on Zoom. But it once again became clear that change is a vessel for growth. I lost a year, or 25% of my college experience, when my learning was transplanted back to my childhood bedroom.

The person I was when I applied to MSU would have dwelled on the year I lost, but as I have grown, I now realize it’s much more productive to focus on the three years I have had in East Lansing, living and learning in a community that is so close to my heart. I have grown immensely through both the academic and social aspects of JMC, and I have no doubt that my time in the college has prepared me for graduate school and a career.