Why I Boomeranged Back to Cleveland

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“He who is outside his door has the hardest part of his journey behind him.” – A Dutch Proverb

Around this time every year thousands of Northeast Ohio students step outside their door and depart to their college destination. New students are filled with nerves of leaving their comfortable, familiar home environment, and returning students are overjoyed to arrive back on campus. These students make up a large segment of Cleveland’s population – a large segment that creates an annual, mass exodus out of the city they were raised in. 

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When searching for colleges, students are often given advice like the Dutch Proverb stated above. Northeast Ohio students leave Cleveland to attend school in a new place, embarking on a journey.

Over two years ago, I made that exact decision. I left my home of 18 years to attend Marquette University in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. From that choice I have learned, grown, and reflected on my future – and more recently, the role that Northeast Ohio will play in it.

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Before I continue, I must admit that my decision to attend Marquette has been a blessing. It has given me the opportunity to step outside my door of Medina, Ohio and experience a new place. I have made lifelong friends, fallen in love with a new city, and broadened my view of the world. I’ve learned what cheese curds are, that Packer’s fans are (almost) as crazy as Brown’s fans, that there actually is more than one Great Lake, and that the Midwest is larger than just Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois. Yet, Cleveland has always remained in the back of my mind. And now that people ask me where I will land after school, Cleveland has crept to the forefront.

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Upon reflection and consideration of this post-graduation decision, I’ve concluded that Cleveland has presented itself to me, and many students like me, in the most perfect way.

Here are the top 3 reasons why many students like myself would want to move back to Cleveland after school:

  1. It has remained relevant: I live over 400 miles away, and I still hear about Cleveland in the news. National events such as the NBA Finals, First Republican Debate, and Republican National Convention have all brought significant positive news coverage to Cleveland so that even when I’m away at school, I still hear about all of the great events happening at home.
  2. I see people like myself coming home to Cleveland: According to the Downtown Cleveland Alliance, between 2000 and 2013, Downtown Cleveland’s population of Millennials increased by seventy-six percent.  
  3. The city itself is improving: It’s hard not to be interested in the new projects happening around Cleveland. From the Flats East Bank Project to Public Square renovations and lakefront improvements, it seems like the city is making renovations right in time for me to move back and fully enjoy them. The timing couldn’t be more perfect.


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Although I still have time to make “the decision,” on where I’ll be taking my talents after school, I know that others like me are faced with this same tough decision. We’ve been part of an exodus once before, but can we now be part of a return? Perhaps stepping outside the door isn’t the most difficult part of our journey after all, but rather, stepping back in.

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Julie Grace is a native Clevelander. She grew up in Medina, OH and now attends Marquette University in Milwaukee, WI where she studies Journalism and Political Science. This summer, she interned at Team NEO, where her passion for Northeast Ohio was further solidified.