Graduation brings thoughtful reflections

With graduation coming on quickly, seniors spend time reflecting on their past years and where life will take them. (AP Photo)

No student is an island.

Many of us would like to believe that once the minivan is unpacked and we are left at the College, alone and finally unsupervised, that all chains linking us to the past break off and we begin a brand new, independent lifestyle. This is partially true, as college is often about trying new things, turning over new leaves and branching out (sorry for the back-to-back tree metaphors), but it comes to a point where the unadulterated fun comes to an end, and we need to reflect a little on who has helped us get to where we are.

For me, the time is now. Graduation was politely knocking a few weeks ago. Now, I can count my remaining days on my fingers and toes. The knocking has turned to pounding as G-Day longs to break down my front door and fill my house with post-college monotony. I can hear it from upstairs. It’s yelling for me to get a job and asking for a final headcount of who is coming to my funeral — I mean — graduation party. I think it said something about a sale on polo shirts and slacks at Kohl’s.

I have turned up the music to drown out graduation’s nagging, and as I sit in my room, trying to ignore the sounds of the rest of my life, I cannot help but consider my support system over the past four years. I would be wandering blindly through the bamboo forest, trying to find my way back to the dorms without it. Most people are lucky enough to have the same thing: a network of family, friends, professors and other students who have cheered our accomplishments and kept us going through college’s hardships.

Luckily for me, the College’s small journalism department has led to the construction of strong relationships with two professors, with whom I have shared a combined total of seven classes. Both have taught me plenty in the traditional professor sense, but I would say that I have learned more through candid conversations in their offices over pieces of bite-sized chocolate and good-natured Phillies-ribbing. Most students find at least one professor to act as a sort of mentor and adviser for them, providing guidance in and out of class, and I would be nowhere without the boatloads of advice given to me about paper topics, internships and my next move at The Signal. Their seasoned words have been invaluable.

Also a product of a small department has been the ability to build bonds between my fellow journalism cronies and me. Most of us have had almost all of our major requirements together, and when the going gets tough and papers begin to form piles, we have always had each other, from intro classes to our capstone, to help with ideas and most importantly, bitch and moan like there is no tomorrow. I know these major-based cliques to be true of other departments as well, but with such a tight-knit group of lovably pissy writers, my example is a little extreme. I have sat next to, behind or in front of one student in particular for nine different classes in four years, and both of us would be considerably lost without the other. We knew each other in high school, and I can recall a hug of relief on move-in day, as if to say, “We made it to college.” At our graduation parties, there will be another hug: “We made it out of college.”

These relationships built at the College are great, but honestly, family support has been the main proponent of whatever success I have achieved here. Most of us can relate to the fact that I cannot even begin to list all that has been done for me during my college career, but it can probably be summed up as mounds of food and miles of rides back and forth to school, not to mention my mother signing her life away on student loans with me so I could come here in the first place.

All of that is important, but the support of always having someone willing to listen to my bad days, being excited for my good days and being able to cheer me up on days in between has really been my driving force. My family,  namely my mom and grandparents,  have never once doubted that I would succeed in college, even when I was ready to give up and play Mario Kart for the rest of my life. They always pushed me to go a little further, and to try a little harder, and now as I write my final article for the college newspaper that has controlled my life for the last few years, I am writing to say “thank you.” “Thank you” to my family, “thank you” to my friends, “thank you” to my professors and “thank you” to anyone else who has gotten me this far. You are the best and I will try not to let you down.

I walked down Nassau Street in Princeton on Friday night, “ooh”ing and “ahh”ing at the university’s stoic structures. I jokingly said to my friend with feigned depression, “Why couldn’t we be privileged and go to Princeton?” I am as privileged as anyone. I hope that you are too.

I just turned down my music. I can’t hear graduation anymore. Maybe it left me alone for good? Did it finally break in?

I better go check.