Take it all in.
Three months. Three months until I walk across the stage with several of my peers and shake the hands of the deans as I receive my diploma. Four long years of hard work, frustration (at times) and singing “Callin’ Baton Rouge” are about to end in one swift walk.
There are going to be amazing days when you feel as though all of your efforts are being noticed by those around you. The organization you stay up at night for to complete the work no one else was willing to do will recognize you as the “Unsung Hero.” The paper or presentation or midterm you prepared for well in advance will be subtly applauded by your professor because he/she knows the lightbulb finally lit.
Then there will be the days when no one notices the extra hours you sacrificed or the anxiety you endured while waiting for an exam to be administered. But it’s part of the big picture, so take it all in.
I have cheered in Death Valley until I’ve cried. I have witnessed proud traditions that other institutions couldn’t fathom. I have been asked to challenge myself in the classroom, through leadership positions, during internships and jobs. This University has given me more opportunities than I ever expected.
My advice to a freshman, sophomore or junior is to, yet again, take it all in. Work hard even when no one is watching. Challenge yourself more than the person sitting next to you. Accept opportunities that come your way, but don’t allow yourself to become nominal. Know that accolades do not accompany each pursuit, and be humble when they do.
Learn from your professors and learn from your mistakes. Ask questions because you’re inquisitive, and don’t allow the majority to silence your point of view. Question what you’ve always known to be true. Add to the marketplace of ideas. Stray away from your comfort levels.
More than anything, know that you didn’t achieve success alone. And realize that most seniors would love to be in your position again, if only for a day.