I wanted to give myself a week between Commencement and sitting down to write my last post for the Admissions Office, for various perfectly logical and sound reasons like “having a clear head” and “not being overly sentimental”. But I think the reason I waited so long before even beginning was simpler than that: I didn’t want to let go.
This last post was a slender thread: a long, thin shadow linking me to my alma mater, to the bubble of college, to the piece of me I had left behind on the hill. But that sentiment conferred a strange sort of pressure: my goodbye had to be huge, it had to be powerful, it had to be the apex of four years of learning and living and growing. I realize now that this sentiment was ultimately self-defeating: it would be impossible to write one 750-1,000 word blog post that could capture an experience so rich and so life-changing, an experience that contained more discovery and joy and love and heartbreak and tears and laughter than I could ever have imagined.
There are many flavors of endings, but the ones we live through are often quiet. The screen doesn’t go black, we don’t turn the page and close the book. I graduated on May 17th, 2015; May 18th, 2015 came just like any other day. There will be a new class on the Hill in September, and all the places I occupied—my favorite computer in the Eaton computer lab, my favorite rack at the Cousens gym, the walkways around Packard and Olin and Braker that I treaded so many times over four years—will be taken up by others. My ending came and the university paused for a little while to celebrate it, and then continued like it always had and always will.
And that’s okay. Tufts wasn’t a vessel; it was a tunnel. It was never mine to keep, never mine to carve my name into. It was a place that took us in, sheltered us, pushed us, and then pushed us out of the nest when it had no more to teach us.
A common thread at every speech I heard at Commencement was the notion of the faculty and administrators waving goodbye. They knew, even if we didn’t, that we were ready—ready to serve, ready to give, ready to become agents of change on whatever path we chose.
Every goodbye from a professor was the same: they knew we were ready to fly. It was hard not to be a little cynical at the close of things: we were one class in a university that has graduated over 150 of them and will graduate many, many more. But the faculty and administrators are part of the university; the largest part of our experience came from each other.
To the Class of 2015, to my colleagues in learning, in exploring, in making mistakes and picking one another up off the ground, in sharing successes and forging connections from interactions both huge and small but always intimately human, I can only say thank you. You were diverse, frustrating, inspiring, compassionate, chaotic, and everything in between. And as I think back on four years with the perspective conferred by distance, you were something else too.
You were perfect.
The university will continue for generations and our four years will fade to dust in the grander scheme of things. The distinction “Class of 2015” will never mean as much to its mentors as it does to its members.
We shared four years on the Hill with each other. We matriculated together in September 2011; we commenced together in May 2015. And in our collective memory, our shared four years on this impossible-to-define ride, we found a home with each other. And that’s why we will never really be forgotten.
After four years of making the university “home”, we’re reminded that it was just a stopping point. But this cycle feels a little different, and it feels different because this time we lived it all the way through. It feels a little different because it was ours.
We were real.
We were here.
As we leave the Hill behind, I think we made Tufts a pretty fair trade. For the piece of Tufts’ soul that will always bear the stamp of the Class of 2015, we each house a tiny piece of the light on the Hill.
I have no clue where we will end up, or to what corners of the world we will bear that light. But we began here, together, and to say that is a privilege. As we move through our lives, that light will bind us to each other. Always.
Here, at the end, I fall back on the words of someone wiser than me. Justin Pike, the admissions officer who began at Tufts when I did and departed last summer, said in his goodbye post that “in life and in the internet, it’s best to keep things simple.” I think those are words to live by.
When I started blogging for Admissions, I often embedded a piece of music in my posts. I fell out of the habit as the years went on, but I think here and now it’s fitting.
Now go forth, and have no fear.
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