During this final year at St. Thomas, I will cherish more than anything else the opportunities given to me to grow as a person.
The unique characteristic of St. Thomas is how it intertwines all elements of life in its curriculum. Opportunities abound to pursue a plethora of academic, artistic, social, athletic and professional interests. This is our greatest strength. Our graduates cannot help but be well-rounded individuals.
Unfortunately, I noticed that some of my friends who walked south through the Arches after graduating last spring were apprehensive to leave the confines of John Ireland’s statue. Some of this hesitancy can be explained by a natural fear of the unknown, but another element may have been at play in their minds: never again would they be challenged in the same way to become a more holistic individual.
Graduates may enter their jobs or graduate programs and find that they are being shaped into a mold. Perhaps it is the mold of an accountant, an elementary school teacher or a teacher’s assistant at a prestigious university. Certainly, they are qualified for such endeavors, but by and large they no longer are challenged to understand in unison the beauty of a Platonic dialogue, the simplistic delight found in Ricardo’s theorem of comparative advantage, or the subtlety of a Vermeer.
In other words, our minds will be pressured to focus our endeavors on our professions. We mostly will leave our freewheeling days behind us in hopes that they have left their mark.
It isn’t a tragedy that we focus on our careers upon receiving a diploma. Rather, it seems a natural part of leaving a campus such as St. Thomas. We cannot be expected to take our excellent education and squander it. Rather, the hope is that our understanding of art, commerce, philosophy, theology, literature and science will benefit us in the long run – in our careers and in life. We will find that that our liberal arts education will pay dividends beyond the realm of salaries and compensation packages. In fact, it is likely that our time spent in the shadows of the Arches will prove very profitable in a variety of ways.
For my part, I plan to make the most of the rest of my time at our university, and I will continue to explore the opportunities that are provided here. Moreover, I will keep in mind that my time is running out. I feel like making a desperate push to take advantage of everything offered by our university while I can.
In closing, I wish to offer this advice to students who have not yet reached their final year: Go join a club in which you are interested, talk to your professors as often as possible, sit down with someone you have never met and eat a meal, play video games less and watch TV as seldom as possible. Go out and experience the richness of our university, or you may regret that your college years, although fantastic, could have been even more rewarding.