By: Kyle Taraska – Berkeley College Student, Business Management
Driver of the #16 Berkeley College TQ Midget for Spitfire Racing
The title does not lie; 2018 was the greatest year of my life. Whether it be on the news or on social media, I feel like we as a society constantly focus on the negative. It is as if we live in a universe with a “glass half empty” mentality. Well, I am pleased to report as 2018 comes to a close, my glass is more than half full and I certainly have a lot to celebrate!
At one point in my life, I was absolutely convinced I would not return to school to finish my Bachelor’s degree in business. Not too long after earning my Associate’s degree from my former college, I experienced some family hardship that turned my focus away from my education for quite some time. Between that and getting comfortable (a little too comfortable) with my employment situation, I lost all motivation to finish my degree.
As I contemplated the idea of returning to school toward the end of 2017, the motivation and passion quickly returned as soon as I walked into the Advisement offices of Berkeley College just over a year ago.
My success in 2018 began with my enrollment. Since then, I have made friends that will have my back for the rest of my life, as I will theirs. As I’ve mentioned in previous blogs, we are like one big ol’ family. It is an incredible feeling.
Not to brag, but through my first three semesters I have maintained a 4.00 GPA, earning a place on the President’s List in each semester so far during my tenure at Berkeley. Balancing good grades, work, racing, and relationships certainly took a lot of discipline and hard work, which makes this even more of an accomplishment. While I know there is still a lot of work to do, I am so confident and optimistic as for what the future holds as I race to graduation.
Speaking of racing—that has worked out pretty well, too! What a journey it has been! The highlight of this year was earning my first career ATQMRA feature win at Wall Stadium this past September. That was literally, I mean literally, the achievement of a lifetime. I have dreamed of that moment since my childhood. Nothing will ever compare to crossing the line capturing the checkered flag that evening. To have the majority of my friends and family in attendance was the icing on the cake. Not only that, but celebrating in victory lane with Berkeley Campus Operating Officer Mike Russo and his son Nick was priceless. When I say this school supports their students, I mean it. Berkeley College is on a different level with that. With that being said, to not only the people I have already mentioned, but thank you to everyone involved with our Spitfire Racing team and the entire Hoosier Mid-Atlantic ATQMRA. Without your support, I would be nothing. Regardless of whatever happens from here, please know you have played a major role is helping make this kid’s dream come true.
Finally, to top everything off, as of December 8, 2018 I am ENGAGED! How cool is that?! On a night that was supposed to be all about myself and my buddy Jason as we celebrated both of our birthdays, I popped the question to not only the surprise of my fiancé (I love saying that word!) Megan, but to the majority of our friend group as well. Megan, you’re my best friend, biggest support system, and I love you so much. I cannot wait to see what is in store for us as we begin the next chapter in our lives.
Looking back, I would say 2018 was a success! I know I am lucky. However, sometimes I like to argue that you create your own luck. It takes a lot of determination and discipline to accomplish all your hopes and dreams. With that, I still have many more goals left on my checklist I wish to accomplish before it is all said and done.
While 2018 was truly incredible and I wish it could be relived over and over, it is time to focus on the future. The year 2019 is already shaping up to be a good one. It is time to be an awesome fiancé for Megan, win more races, and focus on the most important race of them all—the road to graduation.