Every morning at convocation before school at my Jesuit high school in Tampa, some successful alumnus would talk about what his experience in Jesuit schools meant to him and how he’d been able to form instant connections with so many other former Jesuit school grads.
I never took too much from them. I’d never felt like there was anything overly special about a Jesuit education, and I just didn’t see what made the whole “Jesuit connection” idea so prominent.
So there I was, home for break after my fifth semester at Marquette. It was the day of the Marquette-Georgetown men’s basketball game, and finding a bar showing it in Redington Shores, Fla., was quite a challenge. I called seven different establishments to see if they even had the right TV station until I finally found a Buffalo Wild Wings about 30 minutes away.
When I walked inside, I was surprised to find that the bar already had the game on one of its big screens, and sitting at the tables in front were two blue-and-gold-clad alums.
I sat down at an adjacent table, introduced myself and learned that they were a husband and wife who graduated in 1980, live in Milwaukee and were staying at the beach on vacation. The husband had lived in McCormick, like I had my freshman year, and the couple had maintained season tickets since they graduated.
I told them I worked for the Tribune and covered the team, and we spent the rest of the afternoon cheering Marquette on to the big win and celebrating it afterward. I admit I ran up a pretty significant tab at the bar.
We said our goodbyes as they got up to leave, and I continued to watch the postgame coverage. After a while, I noticed that my waitress hadn’t come by to ask about the bill.
When I finally flagged her down, she said with a smile, “Actually, you don’t have to worry about it – the gentleman at the table next to you took care of it.”
I was completely stunned. Here I was, thousands of miles away from Milwaukee, yet someone out of the kindness of his heart decided to do me a favor, simply on the basis that we at some point attended the same college.
It was in that moment that all of those Jesuit spiels finally rang true to me. It was the first time I truly realized how special it is to be a Marquette student and the immediate bond I have with thousands of alumni all around the world.
After that day, I found that while we may only be students for four years, we’re all Golden Eagles for life. And I now have my own story to tell should I ever end up hosting one of those cheesy convocations.