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Home. It’s a simple word, but its roots bury deep. We connect “home” to buildings and spaces, to places that we have made our own. Home, however, is more than brick and mortar.

For four years, I have called Xavier University my home. It has been the place that has challenged me, moved me, and comforted me. Through laughter and tears, I have been drawn to the uniqueness of this place. As reality hits, tomorrow this place will become less of a home. Tomorrow, everything changes. Tomorrow, marks the end of my Xavier career. As discomforting as this transition seems, I must remind myself that while this place is my home, that the real home is located beyond that.

The home that I have come to love at Xavier University is in the community of people that I have encountered everyday. My home at Xavier University is located in the Faculty. In their ability to meet each students’ needs, the faculty has allowed our minds to grow more than we thought possible.  My home at Xavier University is located in the Staff. In their support and willingness to go beyond their job descriptions, the sheer presence of the staff has opened our hearts to compassionately love everyone we meet. My home at Xavier University is located in my fellow students. In the smiles, laughter, late night conversations, and willingness to love boldly, the students of Xavier University have made this place home.

Home is more than brick and mortar. Xavier University has been our home. The Gallagher Student Center, the residence halls, and the academic buildings have all been places that have held our time and our memories, but yet they are merely shells. We–the students, faculty, staff, and community–are Xavier University. Without the people, this place would be nothing. As the Class of 2013 begins our goodbyes, we must remember that we are Xavier University. We must remember that the home we have loved and cherished is not on these grounds, but within each of us. As we fight-back tears, and reminisce on memories past, we must remember that the comfort and support we have felt here in this home is alive in our hearts. As we move beyond the 45207 zip-code, we must remember that we are taking the spirit of Xavier University with us.

We are Xavier University. We have been challenged intellectually, morally, and spirituality. We have been rigorously and compassionately molded to become men and women for and with others. We have been called to love and serve others in way we never thought imaginable. We have each shared unique and personal memories these past four years that will remain in us for the rest of our lives. Without the space, there would not have been a place for these memories to have been captured. Without the people, there would not be any memories. We are Xavier University. We have shaped this place, just as it has shaped us. This place has been our physical home, but now Xavier University is the home that dwells within each of us. Xavier University will forever fuel our hearts, and connect us to the community that we are so deeply rooted.

BobbyBobby Nichols is a graduating senior who has spent his four years working at the Dorothy Day Center for Faith & Justice.  Next year Bobby will be working as the Associate Campus Minister at St. Xavier High School in Louisville, Ky.