I’ve been home for approximately three days after turning in the last undergraduate assignment of my life. And although that time has been spent taking care of my mom who just had knee surgery, it’s given me time to reflect on the time that I spent at William & Mary for the past three and a half years and what that time meant to me as both a student and a person.
Myself, President Reveley, and Liz at the Winter Graduates Reception - December 2011
Last weekend, the College held a “Winter Graduate Reception” to honor and recognize the students (both graduate and undergraduate) who were eligible to graduate in December rather than May. My parents, brother, sister, and near-brother-in-law came down to celebrate the event and I was excited. But somehow, it just didn’t feel like graduation – I had three final papers looming in the distance that were due on Wednesday of the following week. That may have been a primary reason that I wasn’t expecting much – but I was proven wrong. My family and I walked across the street from my off-campus house to the Sadler Center, dressed and ready to go. We walked into a room (after I checked in) that was filled with excited families, a spread of food and beverages, and a stage that held a table filled with rolled up sheets of paper. After hearing our class president, Stephanie Mcguire, speak and other people speak, our names were called by Ginger Ambler, we walked to the stage, and shook hands with President Reveley. And then it seemed as if that were it.
But it wasn’t. After we received our “diplomas,” we were instructed to find someone with special value to pin us for our induction into the Alumni Association. My roommate and one of my best friends at William & Mary, Liz, and I looked at one another and she said simply, “Want to pin each other?” As Liz said that, my mind and heart filled with beautiful memories of the four years we had spent together – the crazy dance parties freshman year, the excitement of moving into a house together sophomore year, the pangs of distance that we felt as she went abroad 2nd semester junior year, and the finality that we’ve felt all semester this year together. And, of course, I started to cry, which then made Liz start to cry. So there we were – the two of us – sobbing like small children, each only able to utter every three or four words of the Alumni pledge and pinning each other with trembling fingers.
Freshman Year - Outside of my future home, Barrett Hall - August 2008
That’s when it really hit me – I’m graduating. Right now. Right here. There’s no more waiting. The only waiting I have left to do is for my diploma to come in the mail. I’m remembering so very fondly all of the moments that have shaped my time here and there’s a mountain of memories that’s building. The time Caroline and I ran out in the middle of a rain storm and got soaking wet just dancing outside of Barrett freshman year. My very much forced first sip of coffee with Danny as we pulled a joint all-nighter during our sophomore year that included lots of donuts, caffeine, and going into hysterical and most likely delirious laughing fits. The first time I watched Moulin Rouge during freshman year in a room full of boys who all knew every single word to every single song. The overwhelming joy I felt when I found out I was headed to Haiti as co-leader of the Haiti Compact with Brian Focarino during junior year. The nervousness I felt on my first day of work in the Admissions Office this summer and the eventual comfort that I began to feel walking through the double doors every single day. My overwhelming humility when I found that I had been elected the Senior Class Homecoming Representative. And the bittersweet feeling of turning in my very last paper via BlackBoard on Wednesday.
There are some things that get old quickly – eating the same food over and over again when you’re too lazy to go grocery shopping, reading an uninteresting book, etc. And then there are some things that for me, will never get old – amongst those are the combination of cake batter ice cream and gummy bears, driving down dirt roads with country music and a Diet SunDrop in hand, but more importantly – William & Mary. Although we brag about how old we are – William & Mary will never be figuratively old to me – I don’t think that I could ever tire of walking the cobblestone streets, spending time with the people that I love more than anything in my life, and the feeling of being home. For that, I am so very grateful.
Hark upon the gale,