by Rachel Gerard
My most vivid college memory is probably how often I had to write down the number “2017” as my year of graduation on various documents, and how surreal this temporal endpoint seemed. Every time my pen traced those numbers, it was a reiteration of how foreign they felt, of how far away those digits seemed in the grand scheme of college years. Especially as a freshman who often got lost trying to find the bookstore in the depths of Leo, frequented Raine and Cannon’s clad in a cheetah skirt, and who could NOT muster the energy to wake up for any 8am class, this timestamp seemed lightyears away.
Now, as a senior, writing this two weeks before graduation, 2017 is a palpable reality, and even more daunting, so is the “real world.” These four years have come and gone, and although I know I should embrace the future, I find myself begging the universe for a rewind button, to both relive and redo certain memories. My mind, like that of many of my fellow graduates, keeps grasping for these artifacts of the past four years and imagining what we would do if we could do it all over again. However, the truth is, we would not know how to grapple with these experiences in retrospect without first making mistakes originally. Likewise, our fondest memories would not be as nostalgic if we could revisit them whenever we wanted.
Think of all that you have been through and accomplished in your short time here at Manhattan College, think of the struggles you’ve faced, the losses, the triumphs, the heart break and healing, the changes– Turns out we have been participating in something “real” all along. We have been given the tools to cultivate our minds and focus on our passions, we have been taught how to grow; things that the “real world” will continue to demand from us. Though we are leaving our safety net of lifelong friends (the kind that that let you cry about Steve Irwin’s unfortunate death after a few too many rounds at Fenwick’s), professors that double as therapists, and advisors that could always fix our mistakes, if there is one thing I have learned at Manhattan College, it is that no Jasper is ever alone.
In fact, throughout most of our respective college experiences we were intrusively bombarded by our small school, our tiny classes, and inevitably bumping into the people you especially wanted to avoid. Yet, despite its confines, as we depart from this small domicile we have learned to call home, we leave with a sense of community and a platform to reflect on our metamorphosis over the course of these four short years. Think of how different you are from that lost freshman you once were and how you can now orient yourself towards any direction you choose. Remember that you can always change your mind and your path; there is no time limit to transformation. You can continuously build and edit your life in the multitude of experiences that lie ahead of you, just as you have learned to do here. In the words of Eric Roth, “I hope you live a life you’re proud of. If you find that you’re not, I hope you have the courage to start all over again.” It is never too late to start over again, Jaspers.
So class of 2017, and soon to be freshman toting T-Shirts that read “2021,” a year that probably feels a millennia away, as the end of four years has for all 163 classes that have graduated Manhattan College, realize that the years creep up on you, yet it is not the passage of time that matters most but rather the things you do in its lapse. In 2021, as the aforementioned generation heads towards the senior walk, our class we will be finishing medical school and law school, constructing bridges and infrastructure, teaching and helping others, traveling the world and finding ourselves— doing incredible things and creating experiences that build on the memories we have made during the last four years, experiences that only first being a Jasper could lead us to. So through the tears, the laughs, and probably more tears, remember class of 2017, the real world has always been a reality and time is on our side if we allow it to be. Congratulations for all the things we have accomplished at MC, and in advance for all the accomplishments our future holds. See you in ten years!
Rachel Gerard is a senior, soon to be alumna majoring in philosophy and English. She has spent her time at Manhattan College working at the Center for Academic Success, participating on the Debate Team, and contemplating existentialism.
She will be teaching abroad in Thailand this fall.