To the Class of 2017,
Congratulations! The moment many of you have probably been waiting for is finally here. You are now seniors. As I watched you rush the senior steps nearly two weeks ago, I experienced a flood of emotions. At first I felt sad that my class had been “replaced”, but then I felt immediate relief that our long journey through college was almost over. As I finished and turned in my finals however, that feeling of relief quickly turned into longing. For as happy as I am to be finished with the rigor of Bryn Mawr, I am not nearly ready to be finished with my college experience completely. You have one more year in this place, and so I wanted to offer some words to consider as you embrace your seniority that I wish I had been told.
Don’t be afraid to set aside time for yourself. While it can be tempting to fill empty spaces in your schedule with work, other responsibilities, and commitments, if possible, try to leave some time for yourself. Senior year has many perks, but it comes with many unknowns, many stresses at times, and many things left to do. You will need this time to unwind, destress, hang out with friends, or just watch Netflix. At Bryn Mawr, I’ve noticed that it is all too easy for students to feel guilty when they choose to not work on school stuff, but as long as you manage your time and keep track of what you need to do, taking time for yourself can only help you do well.
Go out and enjoy the time you have with your friends. 9 months. That’s what stands between you and graduation when you come back to campus in August. It flies by incredibly fast. Enjoy every moment of those nine months. Go out to a restaurant you’ve never tried before, head to that museum you’ve always wanted to see, or go to that festival in center city. Thankfully with the technology we have today it will be easier to keep in touch with each other, but nothing can compare to the memories you make together.
It’s never too late to become involved (or even more involved) on campus. I didn’t find my groove on campus until spring semester of junior year. As a result, I have learned that it is never too late to join or become involved in activities, clubs, and organizations on campus. If you want to do it, do it.
Keep your goals in sight. No matter what your plans are after graduation, I found it easiest to get through the ups and downs of senior year by looking forward to my end goal. Whether that’s more school, a job, an internship, a service year, a gap year, or wherever your heart may lead you, planning for that and looking forward to it got me through some of the hardest parts of the year.
Don’t forget to stop and smell the roses. I know, this is incredibly cliche, but it’s true. One day when I was walking back to my room, I stopped and stood in awe of Thomas. I am going to miss this beautiful campus. Because we live, work, study, and learn here it’s easy to forget how special this place can be. So go sit in the cloisters, or lounge in one of the hammocks and admire the nature and beauty that surrounds you.
And most importantly: don’t forget to celebrate yourself and your accomplishments. A wonderful professor told my class this semester that too often she hears students talk about their work in terms of what they couldn’t or weren’t able to do. I know I am guilty of this. She pushed us to change our frame of thinking from what we didn’t do, to what we had done. I want to push you to do the same. As you probably know, senior year is hectic and chaotic at times, and there are only so many hours in the day we can spend working and doing homework. So if you ever find yourself stressed or overwhelmed next year, stop and think about everything you have done in your academic career that has lead you to that point, and be proud. Be proud of being a mawrter, a senior, and a student. Be proud of what you have done, and think of ways to healthily keep working on the rest.
As I walked up the senior steps yesterday for what was probably the last time and rang the bell to ring in the end of my undergraduate career, my heart was heavy with emotions, just like it was on May Day as I watched you rush the same steps. Enjoy every moment of your senior year, and make the most of it. Anassa Kata, 2017. I can’t wait to see what the future holds for you.