An ode to the college years

To the class of 2017:

We did it! We survived four years of tears, joy, self-growth, independence and new milestones. Now, the world is in our hands.

From freshman year to now, there is so much we have learned about who we are, how the world works and who we want to be. Sure, the journey to graduation wasn’t always stress-free and perfect – I mean, what would the college experience be without midterms, finals and coffee?

“Time flies,” they said. And we’ve all heard the phrase that college is the best four years of our lives. Here’s a little journey back through the last four years.

Freshman year: After graduating high school, we left our parents’ nest with nothing but love and excitement (and perhaps a bit of unpredictability) as we embarked on a new journey at what we would eventually call “home.” We adjusted to dorm life, independence, dining halls and tougher academics, and we also got over-involved in everything on campus. The year was complete with spending countless nights out with our friends, realizing the reality of midterms and finals and discovering all that Ithaca has to offer.

Then came sophomore year: As sophomores, we finally declared (or switched) our majors and continued to embrace the college experience. The end of our teenage years, we welcomed our 20’s and perhaps took up opportunities outside of our comfort zones through study abroad. Exploring other passions and pursuits, for most, sophomore year came with navigating the first internships and building our digital portfolios.

Hello, junior year: The year we became legal adults at the age of 21. We slowly, but surely grew a bit more independent; for some, this is the year we moved into off-campus housing. We sought out professors to be our mentors, took on leadership positions and became activists. Our classes became harder and we narrowed our campus involvements to those that mattered most. Finally, only one year left of college…we couldn’t wait for the real world.

Cheers to senior year: FINALLY. The end to a four-year journey. With solid friendships, the last of our major classes and capstone projects and stressing over post-graduation plans, senior year has certainly been a year to remember. Thanks to our mentors, we took on research opportunities and prioritized what matter to us most. Some of us will enter graduate school while others will start professional careers and a few (like me) are still trying to figuring it out. At 22 years old, we enter the world of adulting.

This bittersweet moment called graduation marks the ending of a wild journey, where moments turned into memories and our passions led us to the best experiences. To the class of 2017, cheers. We made it. Our legacy remains with the future students. Now’s our time to pursue our craziest dreams and challenge ourselves to continue becoming the people we want to be.

To Ithaca College, thank you for the opportunities, relationships and the ups and downs. It’s certainly been a blessing to call you my “home.”

To my roommates and friends, you have helped me grow into a strong, confident person. I couldn’t have survived the long nights and tough moments without you all. Keep inspiring others and, of course, stay in touch.

To my mentors, I am grateful for the opportunities we have shared, and I thank you for your guidance and support in helping me discover my passions.

To my professors, my academic experience would not have been a success without you. It’s been a joy learning from all of you and each has left an impact on the knowledge I have gathered over the last four years.

To my family, without you, I would not be the adult I am today. Thank you for providing me with a memorable college experience, and of course, for supporting me through the tears, tough decisions and the stress.

And finally, to current and future Ithaca College students, live up your college experience and take every opportunity that comes your way. I encourage you to step out of your comfort zone and create more memories than you can ever imagine. Seek out mentors and build relationships. And remember: soak up all that Ithaca and the college experience offer.

I will tell you that college flies by, and before you know it, the real world will be calling your name.

Sincerely,

2017 college graduate

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