It is almost surreal, the fact that graduation is less than two weeks away. I cannot speak for all of the other seniors graduating this May, but surely there are many who have feelings of relief and uneasiness as our time here draws to a close. For many, this represents the culmination of four (or more) years of work. It is great to see it finally pay off, especially for sticking to it where over 30 percent of students do not.
But, for many students, graduation is a time of celebration mixed with animosity. Many of us have only been going to school our entire lives, and the prospect of working full time and not doing school is a very foreign concept. Because we will all be working (hopefully) full-time in the near future, our lives will change dramatically in the short-term as well. Some parents will try to tell you that this was the best time of your lives, but that is only partially true. In fact, the best time of your life is whatever you make it. High school, university, working or retirement can all be the golden ages of your years, and there need not be only one. We are all lucky enough to live in a place that at least gives people a fighting chance to determine their future.
Many of my pieces have been dedicated to pointing out wrong and trying to suggest ways to make it right. I have directed criticism in almost every direction, and it worked to some degree as I received at least as much criticism back from different parts of the community. And, if I was ever truly correct in my driveled musings, I was incorrect at least as often.
But, that is what has made this part of my undergraduate attendance at CSU even more special. Because of my choosing this university and their acceptance of me, I have changed greatly over four years. I hardly speak to former friends that 18-year-old me so strongly valued, but the community here has more than made up for it. I entered college a moderated Republican but leave much more socially liberal, and more sympathetic to the Democratic Party. That is just one example of the innumerable ways in which this place has changed me, and unlike the freshman chemistry classes, this is something I’ll never forget, for my identity has been molded by Colorado State University.
This brings me back to my weekly column, for which I’ve had the pleasure of writing for a couple of years. I’ve received many admiration emails to counter the negatives, and the best part is I learn from every single one. When people stop me in the hall to shake my hand for showing them a way to think about things that didn’t come from their parents or teachers, every column becomes more than worth it. Because this was not a soapbox just to voice opinions, it is meant to be a dialogue to increase conversation in the college community. And so when a person looked at something differently for even a second, the weeks’ worth of publications by the Rocky Mountain Collegian become worth it.
Now at the end of four years, it feels great to be finished with my studies, at least for now. I do not wish to ever stop learning; every day of life means education in a new way on a new subject. But, while the analytical skills and the things written down on note cards may mean access to a job or an outward appearance of intelligence, people are even more important. That is to say that while the subjects being taught matter, it is who you hear them from and study them with that count just as much. Professors like Dr. Andrea Williams and Dr. Kristin Heineman and many others taught me more than just themes and ideas, their courses made me a better and more intelligent person. And, so, what really should be taken away from CSU and Fort Collins as a whole is personal progress, while hopefully leaving behind a point that lets others progress as well.
Thus the searching for a job begins, and because I will soon have a paper to prove I am qualified in something, I’m hoping, like others, that my search will not be in vain. Because now after four years I have learned so much, even if that means knowing I understand less than I did before.
Res Stecker can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.