It seems that the culmination of four years should add up to more than a simple goodbye but that’s all we get. Externally, it’s just that abrupt. We’ll walk across a stage, pick up our diplomas, and a few hours later, we’ll pack up our cars and leave. But, we’re taking a lot more than our diplomas with us. Each of us is the product of a four-year process that has changed the way we look at the world and more importantly, ourselves. Sometimes what we find at the end is surprising and sometimes it’s discovering what we’ve known all along.I came to college wanting to find myself and, though I wasn’t surprised at what I found, it took an environment like UR to bring it out. As I reflect back, I am grateful for what I’ve become as a result of my experience here.That experience is the result of a thousand individual decisions. One of the most important came at the beginning of my sophomore year when I decided to get more involved on campus by writing for the Campus Times. My investment at the paper opened many doors, as well as my own eyes. Most of the things I value most about my educational experience can be traced back to this decision. The characteristics and ideas I developed by getting involved are things that will always be a part of me.College is full of choices and we’ve all had the opportunity to make them. We’ve had an incredible amount of academic freedom in choosing our majors and classes and many of us have taken advantage of the chance to study abroad, create our own independent study courses, or participate in an interest-driven internship.This academic freedom carried over into extracurricular activities and in everything from sports to clubs, from student publications to discussion groups – we’ve shaped our future selves. At a school the size of UR, it was easy to pursue our passions, to truly make an impact and to learn a little about ourselves in the process.Each member of today’s graduating class has taken their own path and made individual choices. We’ve each had a tailor-made experience that, one would hope, has changed us in meaningful ways. The collection of experiences over the last four years has added up – everything from daily moments to life-altering decisions – to make us the people we are today. As we prepare to leave UR, I hope we have each created something that we can be proud to take with us long after the goodbyes are said.Taylor can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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