3 years ago, I watched seniors take their graduation photos on the Quad, wondering what that feeling would be like. Seriously, how could someone voluntarily leave this place? Years later I realize those seniors weren’t leaving because they wanted to, but because it was bound to happen.
In two short days, I get to graduate from the amazing institution of James Madison University. Naturally, as I am supposed to be packing up my room, I can’t help but reflect on the past four years of my life as they happen to be unforgettable. I was advised that the time would go by quickly, but I never knew having to leave this place would be as hard as it is. My experience here has been much more than overpriced textbooks, tough exams, and the loans I don’t even want to think about. A few weeks ago, I was asked what JMU has meant to me. I simply answered that I had found both my friends and myself here—mostly because I knew if I answered truthfully, I would have ended up in tears.
Some college students will graduate from their universities this weekend or the next, ready to move on and start fresh. Some won’t be as ready, and some will be wishing for a little more time. I’ll be one of those students, somewhere in between wondering, “How the hell did I even get to this point?”
So what does JMU mean to me? Much more than I’ll ever be able to comprehend, if I’m being honest. In two days, a new adventure begins for 3,456 new JMU alumni and while I can’t speak for the rest of them, I am uncertain. I’m not jumping into a new job or resting up before a round of graduate school. I have not a clue what direction I’m headed, or even the location in which I want to move. The only thing I’m certain of is that I will always cherish what this institution has given me: love, a family, courage, my own voice, knowledge, a vision, a pathway. Thank you, James Madison, for accepting me into your community. For allowing me to grow here and for allowing me to mess up here. Thank you for the incredible experiences and for never giving up on me. Thank you for the people and the relationships that have grown, and for those that have fallen apart. Thank you for the community and the network I’ll forever be tethered to. Thank you for insuring me that even though I might be uncertain at this point in my life, I know it will all be okay.
To the Class of 2014, I am honored to be graduating with this class…even if you did lose your Gold JAC. We might be all from different majors and going in different paths, but know that I am proud of what we have done and what we will do. It’s finally our time, so let’s make the best of it.