To Ohio State’s 2013 Graduating Senior Class,
During the last four years, we’ve seen a lot of change.
We’ve seen a decade pass, a war end. We watched the completion of a $118 million student union on our campus, witnessed one of college football’s most famous coaches resign in scandal and enrolled in the first semester at our university in 90 years.
We played a defining role in a presidential election, and we contributed to research that has influenced the lives of people all around the world.
Change has been a constant theme for us all throughout our time at OSU. We’ve seen it, and we’ve served as its cause. Change has shaped the landscape of our campus and of our world in ways both obvious and invisible. Most of all, it has shaped each and every one of us.
In the last four years we have gained our independence; we learned how to live on our own. We’ve experienced some of the happiest moments of our lives and dealt with some of the hardest obstacles that have ever rolled our way.
I think I’d be correct in saying that most of us would describe ourselves now very differently than who we were as we sat side-by-side at convocation four years ago.
Some of us have studied abroad, changing the way we see the world and the people who live in it. Some of us have fallen in love, with most falling out of it and learning to move on. And we’ve all had to make difficult decisions, each dealing with the consequences from making the wrong ones.
Getting through college hasn’t been easy, but we did it. It’s made every one of us the unique person we are today.
By attending a university the size of OSU, we were each given the opportunity for a truly one-of-a-kind college experience. More than 175 majors, 1,000 student organizations and countless social experiences have paved us each a path as complicated and full of intersections as the Oval sidewalks on which we walked to class each day.
There are many things we’ve done together – cheered during football games in the ‘Shoe, laid on Oval Beach in the Spring Semester sun, took that freezing plunge into Mirror Lake – but each of us, individually, gained an experience separate from any other.
Myself, I arrived to OSU on the morning of September 20, 2009.
I was 18 years old and moving into Baker Hall West with almost no expectations for the subsequent four years, a “University Exploration” major who would change between at least five others before deciding on the two I will graduate with next week.
Like the other freshman moving into the tiny 13-by-13 rooms around me, I had no idea what I would experience in Columbus and no image of the person who experience would eventually mold.
Four years later, I’m still here. I still live in a tiny space, and my expectations for the next four years are currently almost as hard for me to perceive.
But this person I’ve become is very different from the 18-year-old freshman who came to Columbus in 2009, and this person would be very different if he did not go to college at OSU. I’ve made an astounding number of bad decisions – I’ve learned from a few – but coming here was certainly not among them.
I’ve met and learned from amazing people at this university, had the time of my life with the friends I’ve been fortunate enough to make. I’ve walked upon this campus’ crowded sidewalks on my way to class, and I’ve spun in circles on the Oval at night when few others were around.
I went to parties in the off-campus neighborhoods where I had unforgettable nights that I will never remember surrounded by some of my fellow students.
And next Sunday, after already getting the opportunity to hear him speak twice, I will have the distinct honor of hearing President Barack Obama deliver a commencement address to myself and my peers at our college graduation.
Finally, for those who’ve read this far, I will leave you with a quote a person who played an integral part in shaping my college experience shared with me about a year ago. It was originally spoken by the great American author William Faulkner, and it goes like this:
“You cannot swim for new horizons until you have courage to lose sight of the shore.”
Have that courage, guys; take those risks. Look back on your memories of OSU fondly, but never let past comforts keep you from achieving your dreams.
I have a feeling it’ll all be worth it in the end.