Congratulations to the Class of 2021! Thank you for all your hard work and commitment toward obtaining a higher education. Although the past two school years haven’t been ideal in terms of the learning and social environments, being able to continue pursuing your accomplishments while under these circumstances attests to your perseverance. Closing the chapter of undergraduate education is a milestone, and it should be celebrated as such an achievement. There are still many goodbyes to be said to friends, family, professors, and other individuals who helped improve your undergraduate experience. Although saying these goodbyes may be a sad reminder of your past experiences at school, the future is still there for you to make more good memories.
Sometimes graduation may feel unreal. Walking to get your diploma, shaking people’s hands, and taking pictures are all part of the process. When thinking about the past four years spent on assignments, extracurricular activities, volunteering, and studying, it’s hard to imagine that all your past achievements have finally paid off in getting your degree. Furthermore, even looking back at your past experiences, you may even think that the years really went by quickly. College is of course not easy; it involves dedication toward your goals of completing higher education while working on your interests. Thus, graduation is a time to be happy and proud of your accomplishments because you deserve your degree after all those years of hard work.
The feeling of finally graduating and not being an undergraduate student anymore may not hit until after graduation is done. Being so caught in the moment of experiencing graduation, it may be difficult to really think of the moment in which you are saying your final goodbyes. Graduation is a time to celebrate, but you don’t really think much of it as a final chapter until after the experience. In other words, you may not realize that graduation may be the last time to see the people you cherish until after it happens. However, though graduation may mark a final goodbye for your undergraduate experience, it is not a permanent goodbye. Rather, graduation is also the beginning of new opportunities in which you have the freedom to explore more about yourself by using the experience you’ve gained as an undergraduate student.
After graduation, there will only be good times. You have the choice to explore new opportunities after your undergraduate career. Perhaps you may choose to travel around the world, to apply to graduate school, or to apply to various job opportunities. No matter the choice, you can navigate your life more freely now that you have experience in undergraduate education. Furthermore, the future after graduation will contain many opportunities to meet new people, gain new experiences, and learn about new interests. It’s a time to explore what you want and to do what you want. Sometimes, it may be shocking to learn how much more free time you have when you don’t have to maintain a schedule of your classes, go to club meetings, or attend office hours. Thus, it may feel overwhelming to have this much free time when you’re not sure what to do with it, but of course, the future is at your hands.
To this year’s graduating class, you all deserve this moment of being recognized for your achievements. The pandemic has not made obtaining an education easier, and in fact it has made the process more difficult when constantly studying from a screen. Yet, despite these difficulties, you all worked toward your goals of finishing school to get your degree. For some, graduation may be a temporary goodbye to friends and family. However, the future still remains in gaining new experiences and being able to do new things. Overall, graduation is a moment of reflection: reflecting upon graduation itself, the goodbyes being made and the good times to come.