Oh what difference a year makes!
An entire year has passed since I graduated from St. Thomas. Since I was in your shoes not that long ago, graduating seniors, I will impart my experience on you so you can mentally prepare for the big day.
Graduating is something you expect and eagerly anticipate, yet ultimately it remains full of “unknowns.” Even if much of your life remains constant, this major change alters everything. As you venture into the next phase of your life, a mix of emotions will overcome you, grab you by the wrist, spin you around and land you somewhere completely new.
Think about what you imagined college to be and what it actually was like: Your successes, your failures, the lessons you’ve learned and the experiences you never imagined you would have. Think about what you wanted to be when you grew up at five years old, 10 years, 15 and today. Think about how far you’ve come.
While you can’t predict what the future will bring, you can be thankful, prideful and strong. It isn’t farewell, it’s the beginning of a new chapter, built on the foundation you gained here at St. Thomas.
Get excited for the next phase of the journey. St. Thomas will always be here (but chances are they will add some beautiful new buildings to the campus right after you graduate). The campus will change but will remain fundamentally the same. When you return, be it tomorrow or in 20 years, and walk though those Arches, the campus will welcome you with open arms – the stomping ground where hours of lectures, thumb numbing note-taking and challenging tests took place. The memories will flood in, and chances are that a big smile will creep across your face and a tremendous sense of accomplishment build up inside.
Now you’ve earned that diploma. Ready or not, here it comes – Graduation Day.
P.S. Don’t ever lose that Tommie Pride. Just last week I met a lovely woman at a networking event. I find out that she too, is a Tommie. We did our natural Tommie thing – got really excited, talked about where we lived on campus, what we studied and the fact that Tommies > Johnnies. It turns out that she lived in Dowling the year it became a women’s residence hall. And, she lived in the basement. You will not believe the bond that Dowling basement dwellers have with other Dowling basement dwellers. I have a new friend and perhaps some new opportunities. Never underestimate the power of a Tommie connection.