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  • Jay Ashdown

Mission 100 Days: A Flawed but Necessary Chapter

From left to right: Jon Skuza, Jay Ashdown and Aidan Joly at a Sabres game in 2019.

By Jay Ashdown, Sports Editor

When I think back on my Canisius experience throughout my four years here in Buffalo, I can’t help but look at how wild the ride has been. For most people, the struggles in college these past few years have been largely associated with COVID-19 and how it has impacted how we live our lives. When I came to Canisius in late summer of 2018, I was 19 years old and I was just looking for some freedom in my life.

Coming from Cleveland, Ohio wasn’t an issue for me. I had always been very good at making new friends in situations like this. I wasn’t scared by any means, but there’s no doubt it was going to be a new experience, and for once I would be doing it all on my own.

There’s many different ways to define success. Was I successful in making new friends? Yes. Was I successful in making myself known around campus? Absolutely. Was I successful in building a rapport with my peers and professors? For sure! But there’s one thing I really struggled with — priorities.

When you come to college, it’s hard sometimes to keep in check exactly what you’re looking for, and while I got the new friends, freedom and college experiences I was looking for, I forgot the one thing I was actually there for my freshman year: an education! As a result, endless partying and nights spent watching sports and playing games with friends finally caught up to me, and I found myself in a position I never thought I’d ever be in: I was on academic probation after one semester in college.

Needless to say, Christmas break was rough on 19-year-old Jay. How does one explain to their parents exactly why they have a 1.76 GPA? It’s not something that is easy to explain to anybody, because it was nobody’s fault but my own. That’s where college is great, though. It gives you a real life opportunity to figure it the heck out, and I had no choice but to do that for the rest of my time here.

It’s crazy to think that I am here today, just a few months away from graduating and currently possessing a 3.22 GPA. Is a 3.22 GPA unheard of? Not really, but considering the circumstances I put myself into, I’m pretty damn proud of the fact that I was able to pull myself out of the gutter and get to this point. If you told 19-year old Jay that this is where he’d be in April of 2022, he’d have definitely looked at you like you had three different heads.

College is a great time: it’s a chance to make new friends, build new relationships, experience new things and have some freedom on your own. All of these things are great, but to me? The greatest thing I have learned while at Canisius College is how to fight through adversity, even if it’s a tough situation you brought upon yourself. While you have to believe you can do it, nobody can do it alone.

My academic advisor Dan Higgins, as well as other great professors in the journalism and communications department like Dr. Irwin, Dr. Wanzer, Dr. Hartman and many others have been incredibly influential in me bouncing back, and their unwavering support has been perhaps the most significant in this entire process for me. I may not be leaving Canisius College with a perfect GPA, an immediate job that will pay six figures or anything glorious that people may get at other colleges or universities more notable than this one. But at the end of the day, I’m leaving here with great friends, a fresh perspective on life and work and a new attitude when adversity finds my path.

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