|Ecce Quam Bonum|
|As a proud graduate finally stepping on the seal!|
I know it's hard to believe, but you did it! After all those classes, exams, late night study sessions and pub runs, talks with professors about everything and nothing, and countless memories that you've made over these past few years, you're finally done. While this may seem like the end of a journey, make no mistake; Sewanee and the people you met there will be with you for a long, long time to come. Here I speak not just from personal experience, but from meeting countless alums from the sixties to date.
Nearing graduation, some of you may be worried about what lies ahead. Be it grad school, a job, or a lack of the above, it's absolutely natural to be apprehensive about what you're getting into. I've been on the 'other side' for a year, and wish that I knew then that there was absolutely no reason at all to worry. Take this time to enjoy your last few days as Sewanee students, and have faith that things will work out; not just because they always do, but because all of you have worked extremely hard for an amazing education, because you have an entire Sewanee community to support you, and because you didn't just spend your four years learning how to read and write. We value everything that you did over your Sewanee career, and it is only a matter of time before the rest of the world outside our bubble do too!
About your friends and professors and other wonderful members of the Sewanee community: I said it then and I'll stand by it now. Toward the last few months and weeks of your time at Sewanee is when you begin to realise who'll be with you for ages to come. Some of you may be moving very close to Sewanee, while others may be going very far from any Sewanee influence (like I did), and may be worrying about how you'll keep up with your Sewanee family. Trust me when I say that this is nothing to worry about! I haven't seen many of my Sewanee family for about a year now, and still feel as close to them, if not closer, even though I'm a continent away. It seems weird, but I think that people who have a Sewanee background find it much easier to stay connected once they leave. It's like spending all that time in that magical place can't help but bond us in ways that even we do not recognise.
Grad week is going to be a LOT of fun!! (A word of advice; it's easy to forget about packing during this time, but trust me, you'll be happier starting earlier rather than later.) It may seem overwhelming what with all the different parties and locations and people, not to mention your own party if you're having one, but try and plan your week out with your friends in advance, while still leaving room for flexibility. While you will probably see most of the people you're graduating with over the next few months, years and decades, remember that these parties may be the last time you're seeing some of them for a while!
Another thing about grad week; (this happened to me and some of my friends), grad week may be the time that the fact that you're leaving really sinks in. There may or may not be tears, but remember that everyone is kind of going through the same thing! For me, realisation sunk in and tears started on the Wednesday evening of grad week after a lovely 'farewell' catch up over Kenyan beer with one of my friends. It got worse when I saw another friend who had arrived for our graduation, and pretty soon my suitemate caught on to my mood. Between the two of us, we must've shed buckets of tears, largely at the PKE party, and largely on the dean's shoulder!! (Thanks Hagi :) )
Luckily though, we both got it out of our system that night itself, felt better for it, and used the rest of grad week to be happy about the time we were spending with our friends and families!
Graduation itself seems like it goes on for a long time, but you'll be done before you know it! It may be hard, but try to get some sleep the night before. You're guided through everything, and all you have to do is to shake Dr. McCardell's hand, get your diploma, make sure to smile for all your pictures (and take plenty!), and run across the seal as many times as you wish!! You've accomplished SO MUCH, and deserve to celebrate your special day!
Saying goodbye that Sunday may be the hardest part, but try and look at your goodbyes more like 'see you laters'. Trust me, the memories you've made, the people you've met, and the things you learnt at Sewanee (not just in the classroom) will stay with you far longer than you could ever imagine.
I'm so proud of all of you. Remember, the world is now your oyster!
YSR, best of luck, and lots of love!!