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Four Years Spent Learning: My Takeaways as a Graduating Senior 

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This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at SLU chapter.

This past weekend, I donned my cap, gown, cords and tassels to take photos around campus with my very best friends. The sentimentalist in me was on full display. After each stop at our favorite picture-perfect landmarks on campus, I would tear up, thinking “How can we already be graduating?!”

Spending four years living in a half-mile-long, one-block-wide community of thousands of 18- to 22-year-olds has been an absolute hoot and a half. I’ve enjoyed asking my fellow graduating seniors what they’ll miss most about undergraduate life and what their favorite memories are from each year. So I’ll take a moment, then, to reflect on and answer my own questions.

Let’s take a trip down memory lane…

Freshman year. Living with a roommate for the first time, running around with no curfew or mom-made dinners and taking virtual classes while lying in bed-we were rascals, and we had fun. I said “yes” to more opportunities than I ever had before in my life. This opened doors to seeing new places, making strong friends fast and learning how to define myself as an independent young woman. My freshman year self was a risk-taker and adventure seeker. As a senior, I’ve tapped into this version of myself when I need confidence in communicating with new people or could use an extra push to do something out of the ordinary just because.

I’ve often heard negative connotations of sophomore year, but I loved it. Steady friends had settled in, classes were geared more towards my interests and I didn’t feel like a freshman. In my second semester, I was afforded the opportunity to study abroad. I wanted to practice my newfound independence by traveling to a country without anyone I knew. This desire led me all the way to the west coast of Ireland–Galway. This year taught me that a leap of faith can help you realize just how strong and adaptable you are. I learned to be alone without being lonely, to rely on the steady comfort of phone calls with friends and family back home and how not to act American in the annoying way.

As I settled back into “real life” in America, junior year started picking up. I was cruelly forced to do what no college student ever expects to be expected of them: study?!?! Just kidding, I love academia. Among rigorous classes and almost over-involvement, I experienced the giddiness, rush and stress of dipping my toes into the water of relationship navigation in college. While I have no significant other to take away from the year, I did learn something significant. I learned that what I often sought from others was an attribute or idea that I could totally provide for myself if I was willing to put in the introspection and work. A relationship can be fun, lovely and full of picnics in the park, but it won’t complete you. Only you can do that.

Senior year. I have done my time at this college. As sentimental as I may be, there is something unsettling about how young and little the freshman class looks as I see them milling about in the same way I did not so long ago. I’m leaving undergraduate education with a slew of knowledge of the world and healthcare field I’m entering, friends I’ll hold tight forever, a new haircut and an understanding of myself I never thought I would reach. Of all the things I’m grateful for, though, I’m realizing that the sole reason I came to this place is ultimately the most important thing I’m taking away–an education. The thousands of dollars I spent to learn, buy books and fuel late-night study sessions and the thousands of hours I spent studying, reading, writing and practicing have all shaped me into a young professional confident in her capabilities and eager to put to practice what she’s been taught. I may be a nerd at heart, but I think we could all use a moment to actually reflect on every single thing we’ve ever had to memorize, study, debate or read and how that has drastically shifted how we see the world and life itself now. We are forever changed. That is a forever gift.

I may not be the type of alumna to only wear my school merchandise from now until forever or dress pets and babies in my school’s cobalt blue, but I will hold my experience close to my heart. And now, I must dive off this great diving board into a world awaiting contributions from this educated, eager class of graduates. Here we go!!

Lucy is a senior at Saint Louis University studying occupational therapy. In her free time—if she has any—you may find her curating music for her DJ gig with KSLU radio, shooting hoops at the Rec Center, or drinking a fun little beverage. Her writing is like her life: sporadic, passionate, full of energy, and a bit all over the place.