How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard. — A.A. Milne
Have you ever asked yourself why you love something?
One of my friends asked me this the other day and I didn’t really know how to answer.
“Er…it’s really complicated, how do I even begin to explain?”
As I prepare to graduate today, I can’t help but ask myself all the reasons I love Morris. It’s a common string of words for me to say these days. I’ve said it plenty of times here on the blog. “I love this place so much. I’m going to miss it.”
But why? Why do I love this place so much? What is that it I’m going to miss?
Sure, it’s a beautiful place. As a prospective student, I fell in love with this campus because of its beauty. I love the architecture, the landscaping, the fact that I can leave my room at 10:28 and get to my 10:30 class on time. It’s small, it’s homey, it’s beautiful.
But there is more to this love I have for Morris than the way it looks.
Later today, when I sit with my classmates–my best friends by my side–listening to the commencement speeches, preparing to walk across the stage, I’ll be so aware of how this place has shaped me. How I wouldn’t be the person I am today without Morris and all the people who make this place such a beautifully unique place. After all, it really is the people who make this place so special. The friends and the faculty who have made my life so much more enriching.
As I prepare to graduate today, I am aware that I will probably never be so profoundly shaped by such a specific and unique environment again. Never again will I have so many supporters in one place, cheering me on, wishing only success in my future. Sure, I’ll go out into the “real world” and hopefully accomplish great things. I’d like to go the graduate school one day, I hope to find a job environment where I feel supported and fulfilled…but those experiences will never garner the types of relationships and support systems that are possible as a college student in an undergraduate setting.
I’ll have two degree when I leave this place, sure. I went to college to get these two degrees, after all–a Bachelor of Arts in History, a Bachelor of Arts in English. with Honors. Because I didn’t graduate with honors in high school so I was bound and determined to graduate with honors in college. I’ll have two degrees and I’ll have the diploma to prove it. But one flimsy piece of paper certainly does not define the experiences I’ve had here. How much I’ve grown and learned about myself. The sense of dignity I have towards myself that I didn’t have when I first arrived in the Fall of 2011. I’ve met people who have fundamentally changed my life: advisers who have had faith in me since day one, friends who will never lose faith in me as long as we live.
When I cross that stage later today and accept my diploma, I know I wont just be leaving here as a college graduate. I will be leaving here as a better person, a more mature, stronger individual than I was when I got here.
In this day and age, the college experience has been criticized by many. With tuition rates in the United States rising every year, more and more people find themselves asking: what’s the purpose of a degree unless it directly relates to the career path you want to take? Or, in my case, why go to college and major in history and English if you don’t even want to teach either subject anyways?
Why go to college at all?
My answer is my own–it may not be the best one out there, but it’s the best I can do–College is as much about the experience as it is about the degree. I, for one, couldn’t have survived being thrown out into the real world without this experience. I learned so much in the classroom, and for that I am grateful. I’ve had some of the best professors I could have ever imagined here at Morris. But, I’ve also learned so much outside of the classroom. My college experience wasn’t always easy. I’ve experienced some of my most trying moments here at Morris…but I’ve learned, I’ve grown. I am not the same person I was when I got here.
And for that, I am forever grateful.
This is why I love Morris. Why I will forever miss it when I leave as an alum.
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Here’s to the class of 2015 and my soon-to-be alma mater.
I couldn’t have done it without ya.