My final week at William & Mary was a whirlwind of graduation festivities. On the last day of classes, my friends and I lined up with the rest of the Class of 2018 to ring the Wren bell, a popular senior year tradition. I also submitted the last paper (ever!) of my undergraduate career. After that, the week was a blur. I attended the Last Chance Dance on Thursday, went to the Candlelight Ceremony on Friday, and arrived bright and early for Commencement on Saturday morning. Finally, at the history department ceremony on Sunday, I walked across the stage and received the long awaited diploma! By Sunday evening, my family had packed up my dorm room, and I drove home to Richmond with an overwhelming amount of boxes, bags, and suitcases (many of which remain to be unpacked).
It’s now been about three weeks since I graduated from William & Mary, and I still haven’t had quite enough time to process graduation weekend, much less these past four years. However, since I’ve been home, I couldn’t help but reflect on some of the valuable lessons that W&M has taught me — both in and out of the classroom.
W&M taught me to think critically.
In my classes, I didn’t simply memorize names and dates. Rather, I learned how to ask questions, how to analyze sources, and how to construct an argument. In my papers, professors pushed me to really think about my argument and the connections that I was making. They encouraged me to consider different perspectives and to move beyond just stating what happened and instead focus on explaining why something happened. These writing and critical thinking skills are invaluable, and they have helped me better evaluate contemporary political and social debates. Most importantly, they have given me the confidence to voice my own opinions on these issues.
W&M taught me to take risks.
Some of my favorite memories from college are of the times when I decided to step outside my comfort zone or try something new. From going on a geology department camping trip, to volunteering at a cat show, to attending a spring break service trip in Savannah, Georgia, I never once regretted saying “yes!” to an opportunity that the much shyer high school version of me may have passed up on.
W&M taught me how to grow from mistakes.
Over the last four years, there have been many moments when I wished I had a redo button. However, my time at William & Mary has taught me that it’s okay to fail and to make mistakes. As cliché as it may sound, the mistakes I have made over the course of my college career have shaped me into the person I am now. I am much more confident and sure of myself than the nervous freshman who first stepped foot on campus during the summer of 2014, and I have grown in ways that I never would have imagined.
Although my time at William & Mary has come to an end, I know that I will continue to reflect on these lessons as I move on to the next adventure. While the future may still be uncertain, I know that William & Mary has prepared me well, and I am excited for what comes next!