On August 24, 2014, I woke up at 6 a.m. on the dot. From what I remember it was a cool Sunday morning set to become a typical humid Long Island summer day. When I emerged from my home about an hour later I turned around and took a good look at the front. I thought, “when I return here, I will be a bona fide college student.” I then hopped in my mother’s SUV, which was loaded to the brim with all the essentials, and we drove up to New England.
My family arrived just before 10 a.m. at 415 South Street, in a city called Waltham in Massachusetts. At no points on our trip north had I given one second of thought to the events that would culminate in the university’s 67th Commencement Exercises, to be held on May 13, 2018—just weeks from now.
Alas, here we stand. And here we think. After four long years, my fellow members of the Class of 2018 and I will be graduating from Brandeis University. Cue the festivities.
In lieu of early celebrations, I have been reflecting on the experiences that have brought me to where I am and what Brandeis means to me. The last four years have certainly been eventful. The Class of 2018 has seen three university presidents. We’ve seen a lot in the name of the push for progress and righteous protest. We’ve seen highs and lows as a community of students, both in academics and in other aspects of life at Brandeis.
Indeed, a lot has happened over the past few years. There were, personally, a few rough times, but at the end of the day they were overwhelmed by the great times. This is my advice as a graduating senior to underclassmen: when the cloud never seems to lift and things seem rough, if you see things through to their conclusion, they will get better.
It also doesn’t hurt to have a few close friends and extracurriculars to help you along the way. Some say you make the closest of friends in your college years. Now with four years of evidence, I can give a resounding endorsement to that statement. At Brandeis you have the ability to make and keep lifelong friends who have your back, will show up to events with you and will, perhaps most importantly, be honest and genuine. As we all prepare to graduate, I want to thank those friends in my life who made the Brandeis experience all the better.
The same goes for extracurriculars at Brandeis. There is no more expansive club scene than at this university, and for good reason. This is a place where ideas can flourish and not be relegated to a few huge umbrella clubs nobody seems to have interest in.
For example, in my first year, a few friends and I decided to get together to restart Brandeis’ defunct academic quiz bowl club. We presented our case before the Senate and before long the Quiz Bowl Team was up and running again. Although I am no longer part of Quiz Bowl, I am still proud of its re-establishment and its subsequent success.
Another club I think of fondly at the end of my undergraduate career is the one that is publishing this very piece. I was an editor for The Brandeis Hoot for a part of each of the four years I’ve been at Brandeis. With some undue haste I departed last semester—a move I have embraced but have always looked back on with mixed feelings—but I did not forget the time I spent here. The paper, too, had its ups and downs, but at the end of the day it was always a rewarding experience. I met some of my closest friends on the paper, and a couple of them have done a masterful job running it this year. I tip my hat to you, editors-in-chief Emily Sorkin Smith and Hannah Schuster.
Lastly, there is the club that I will always hold most close to my heart. It is none other than the Brandeis Ski and Snowboard Team. When I got to Brandeis, I knew I wanted to ski. I also acknowledge that I was a rather poor skier at the time. Not only did the Ski and Snowboard Team embrace me for my ability, they embraced me as a person. That is what the team has always been about: camaraderie.
As with The Hoot, I have fostered some close friendships with my fellow teammates that have truly transformed my experience at Brandeis. Team, you all know that this is not the first time I’ve gushed about you in an opinion piece here. That’s because I can never fully express my love for all of you and my thanks for a wonderful four years. Here’s to you.
Taking a step back, we see the larger picture. Brandeis is a place of excellent academics, we know that for a fact. Sometimes, the academics can be stressful, but fret not. There is always a light at the end of the tunnel. Your friends and peers are there to guide you to the end of that tunnel, which for myself and the rest of the Class of 2018 is just weeks away. Try not to make hasty decisions, have faith, hold on to clubs you love, hold your friends close and, most of all, have fun.
You’ve got less than four years; make them last.
To those like myself who have just weeks, congratulations! It’s time to celebrate.