A common thread among students on our campus is complaining in “sCWRUed” solidarity. I, for one, have rued our catering services and academic rigor throughout my four years here. But the truth is, I love this school.

These past four years have challenged and changed me, and now in my final moments on campus, it is clear that rather than having things to complain about, I have so much to be thankful for.

Thank you to the amazing Office of Education Abroad for facilitating my year abroad. Your support was incredible and revitalizing. Studying abroad was the best decision I have ever made, and without your guidance, it surely would not have been possible.  

Thank you to the bureaucracy and obstacles that I encountered in my pursuance of non-traditional extracurricular activities. While you were a nightmare at the time, you have since then empowered me to not only believe but truly know that I am capable of achieving that which I seek.

Thank you to my advisors within and beyond my department for encouraging me and helping me navigate through difficult paths in a university that strives to “think beyond the possible” within the status quo.

Thank you to The Observer for providing a creative space that challenged me to simultaneously grapple with issues internally and reflect on our diverse, progressive and often demanding—but always inspiring—campus.

Thank you to MATLAB for stealing my thunder, serving me piece after piece of humble pie, even reducing me to tears in the bathroom during lab. But most of all, thank you for teaching me that while I may never master computer programming, I have the courage to face my foes and undertake the challenges at hand.

Thank you to the final exam I missed and the resultant class I failed. Although this was a dreadful mistake and a gut wrenching, horrendous event, I learned that failure is never permanent. Having failed and recovered, it is evident that failure and risks are nothing to be scared of or shy away from.

Thank you to Greek Life for the important lessons in social capital; space to have ongoing dialogue and reflection upon my values; events to meet new, interesting people; and most importantly, opportunities to make some wonderful, invaluable friends.

Thank you to my sports medicine minor for your refreshingly small class sizes, for the ability to tape an ankle and the opportunity to observe team dynamics for upwards of 350 clinical hours.

Thank you to Chipotle for reinforcing the importance of treating yourself to $1.95 guacamole after persevering in line for 40 minutes.

Thank you to Kelvin Smith Library (KSL). I avoided you my first three years on campus, but during my final hurrah I embraced you—and you unto me —as a haven for grinding out assignments, late night antics and memories only a combination of cabin fever and brain discombobulation could produce.

Thank you to our physical education requirements for forcing our stressed-out student body to work out, maintain a healthy lifestyle and enjoy the pleasures of exercise. I loved gym so much I took an extra quarter of basketball just for fun.

Most importantly, thank you to my friends for feeding me vegetables in the midst of a ramen noodle diet, for laughing with me (really mostly at me), for keeping me sane and putting up with my ceaseless need to act, explore and do.

Graduation is imminent, and I’ve got a lot of feelings I’m weakly trying to suppress. I’m frightened by the end of my vibrant, fun, easygoing CWRU social life and apprehensive for the finality that collecting my diploma represents.

I’m also unbearably excited. My experiences at CWRU have prepared me for anything the future hurls at me. The past four years have by no means been easy, and I don’t reckon they should have been, because they have given me immense confidence and an almost indestructible feeling of capability.

My vision for my adult self has always been conflicting. It contains two vibrant, attractive images. A vagabond and a ball buster. A traveler of the world over and a strong woman rocking the hell out of a power suit.

I’m still unsure as to how these two visions combine in the forthcoming years, but as evidenced by my experiences at CWRU, the obstacles are always surmountable.

Too many of us too often like to say we’ve been “sCWRUed” by our university, and at 2 a.m. hunkered down in KSL, that certainly seems the reality. But in fact, we are being challenged, tried and tested by our academics, peers and the risks we take to become a stronger, more knowledgeable and more capable version of ourselves.

So, thank you CWRU for pushing, preparing and empowering me for an ambiguous but exciting future. And thank you to the people who created a warm, welcoming foundation upon which I could strive to challenge myself.

Here’s to four years, here’s to “thinking beyond the possible” (whatever that means) and most importantly, here’s to you, CWRU.

Thank you.

Heather O’Keeffe is a senior studying biomedical engineering and minoring in sports medicine. Upon graduating she will be backpacking in South America for 4.5 months (vagabond: check) before beginning a career with Accenture (power suit: check).