As I sit here trying to figure out what to write, I find myself coming up empty each time. One month from now, I was supposed to walk across the stage of the Veale Convocation Center, shake hands with President Snyder, show off my best pageant wave and walk to the crowd as the senior class celebrated their accomplishments together. Although the scene I have pictured in my head won’t exactly pan out the way I’ve been planning for the last eight years, the one thing that remains constant is this: In four weeks, I will officially become a graduate of Case Western Reserve University’s Class of 2020. That alone, is a lot to take in.
My pending graduation date has me feeling a lot of mixed emotions. I’m relieved to finally make it across the finish line of a major educational milestone. I’m scared about being jobless and having to live at home with my mom for the foreseeable future. I get flashbacks to the 2008 financial market crash, remembering how there was a hiring freeze for students in the humanities, much like myself, for months. But then, I begin to feel something else: nostalgia. An appreciation of my college days. The “best years of our lives.” And while I’m usually not one to give into clichés, I have to admit, the past four years I’ve spent at CWRU have led to some of the greatest experiences and fondest memories over the past 21 years of my life.
Let me share some of those memories with you.
My journey at CWRU started about a year and a half before my freshman year, in January 2015. Freshly back from my first semester of boarding school in England, I studied at the Kelvin Smith Library nearly every day to prepare for the exams I would have to take upon returning to the UK later that month. I quickly fell in love with Club KSL, and it became something I looked forward to when I would come home from the UK. I felt like a real college student, studying late into the night with my future classmates around me. I even remember sneaking into what I found out to be CHEM 111 to get a better idea of what college classes were like. I couldn’t wait to go to college.
It didn’t take long for me to pick CWRU as my No. 1 choice when it came time to apply for college later that year.
When I finally came to start my freshman year, it was like I had found the perfect fit. CWRU really became like a second home for me, even though my real home was just up the street.
CWRU gave me the room to grow and experience life, which is essentially the whole point of going off to college. And while academically, it may have not been the easiest ride for me (formerly Biomedical Engineering and Pre-med, I lasted five months), I’ve learned more about myself and who I want to become. Clearly, I wasn’t “thinking beyond the possible” as much before I officially became a Spartan.
During my time at CWRU, I was able to join the clubs that interested me, such as the Korean Student Association, where I was the club’s first non-Asian member, held an executive position for two years as PR Chair and learned an entirely new language. I took classes that I was passionate about outside of my major. I learned from journalism legends like Jim Sheeler and Andrea Simakis, whom without, I wouldn’t be writing this very column. Two professors who recognized a young writer with a voice, and helped nurture it so she could become more confident in her ability to speak her mind and share her thoughts. CWRU allowed me to study abroad in my number one travel destination, South Korea, at the only other university I wanted to attend outside the U.S., Yonsei University. I will leave that experience with this: What happens in South Korea, stays in South Korea. Make of that what you will.
This walk down memory lane isn’t for me to brag about all that I’ve done over the past few years. Okay, maybe it is a little. But really, this is to show how much is out there when you let go and let live—something that took me a very long time to lean into during college. Don’t let that be you! Start living, today.
So, I want to take these last few moments to say my final goodbyes and offer up some advice to those who are coming up behind me.
Take that class you’ve always wanted to take but is outside of your major. Go to a meeting for that club you signed up for freshman year but haven’t yet found the time to go to because life’s been busy. Say hi to that cute person in your SAGES seminar you’ve been sitting next to all semester but haven’t been able to confess your undying love to yet. Experience Thirsty Thursday. Pull that all-nighter in KSL to test out your procrastination theory. Cheer on the Spartans at a sporting event. Run for student government. Be late for class to stand in line for Thwing Tuesday with your friends. If there’s ever anything you’ve wanted to experience, but feel like time is running out, it’s because it is and the time is now.
These are the memories you’re going to look back on and want to go back to. Don’t spend your time regretting you didn’t get to know Nick over at ABC the Tavern or never experienced Karaoke Night at the Jolly Scholar—go out and do it! You’ll be happy that you did.
To my friends, family, professors, advisors and everyone else who has guided me on this five and a half year journey, I thank you. I have come to see for myself that it really does take a village to raise a child, and you all have stood by me and watched me grow into the young woman that I am now. You’ve offered me a shoulder to cry on when things went astray, offices to strategize my future in, classrooms to give me the space to create in and most importantly, you have shown me that life isn’t all about grade point averages and being number one all of the time. It’s about the journey and being the best version of you, that you can be. To be honest, I don’t think there’s a better lesson to learn than that.
While my time at CWRU is quickly and quietly coming to an end, I know that in many ways, this is really just the beginning. You may be able to issue a stay-at-home order and move classes online, but you’ll never be able to take out the fighting Spartan spirit that’s been instilled in me since my first, quiet day in the library, all those years ago. I’m proud to say that I’m a Spartan.