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Takeaways from Canisius Before Walking Away

By Marissa Burr, Opinion Editor

Content warning: This article includes descriptions of sexual assault. Reader discretion is advised.

975 days ago I moved into my sixth-floor dorm room in Bosch Hall. My whole life was ahead of me, and despite the difficulties surrounding the pandemic, I was hopeful that things would only be getting better. Now I sit in my apartment that I share with a significant other and I’m writing my final article for The Griffin. Some things obviously had to go right in order for me to get here, right?

Honestly, I believe that it was actually everything going horribly wrong that got me to the place where I am.

For starters, the roommate that I had originally as a freshman moved out within a month due to unforeseen differences in our living styles. We don’t really talk anymore, but I still wish her well. After all, if I didn’t have the whole room to myself, I wouldn’t have been able to hang out with my future best friend Brenda who was living across the hall. I’ll be moving back in with her in about a month, so I’d call the roommate situation a win in the end.

During my first year, I also thought it was a good idea to take 18 credits and work two work study jobs and a full-time retail job. I managed to survive doing that for about six months before I missed a midterm exam and it snapped me back to the reality that no normal human should be doing that. Cue a little dip in my mental health while trying to process the fact that I wasn’t invincible, as well as one in my physical health just from sheer exhaustion. But that money I’d built up allowed for me to survive later on with no job at all in an attempt to focus on healing from trauma.

Which brings us to the worst thing that happened to me during my three years as a member of the Canisius community; if you’ve been following along with my columns all this time, you know that I’m talking about my sexual assault. I allowed two guys to move into my apartment, and within a week the newly graduated Canisius student shattered everything I knew and sent me into a downward spiral that would continue for over a year. I’m still processing, and while it has gotten better, his 10 minutes of pleasure not only almost killed me, but forever tainted the institution I thought I’d earn my bachelor’s degree from. I hope it was worth it.

In the midst of dealing with that overflow of emotions, I was slowly realizing that I didn’t want to be a kindergarten teacher anymore— the career I’d decided on back in middle school. I loved kids and still do, but especially now I cannot fathom spending the rest of my life in a classroom and being entrusted to teach the future world leaders everything they’d need to know. So I changed course — literally courses — and became a creative writing major. I haven’t looked back, and it’s one of the best decisions I've made in almost 21 years of living.

Note, I said one of them. The top decision was writing for the very publication you’re reading right now. The Griffin opened its arms to me right away, and within a semester I went from having the title “Opinion contributor” follow my name in the byline to “Assistant Opinion Editor” and then ending it with the super cool one you’ll see at the top of this article. I’ve gained experience as a writer as well as a traveler and friend. Each Thursday night has made me a better person, and I can say with absolute certainty that I would go through every horrible experience I’ve endured in the last three years all over again if it meant that I was able to be an editor with this year’s group. That’s how amazing they are.

So thanks, both editors and readers, for making my time at Canisius worth it. It wouldn’t have been possible without you.

Forever thankful,


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