I didn’t know that I wanted to go to Brandeis, at first. It was a school I applied to on a whim after hearing from my grandfather that a distant family relative went here. Four years later, I have come to realize that Brandeis has been so much more to me than just my undergraduate college or my alma mater, but it has truly been a home. It is a community of people that I care about, and that care for me. Sticking to the tradition of the senior op (in which all graduating editors at The Hoot write an opinion piece for their last issue), I would like to give some advice to any underclassmen looking to make the most of their college experience.
First, I want to encourage you to go out of your comfort zone. Everyone will tell you this even though you may roll your eyes, because it is the truth. You can believe me, now that I’m old. I came into this school with no previously made friends, and left being the Editor-in-Chief of The Hoot with my fellow top-dog Candace, President of the Brandeis Ballet Club and a sister of Delta Phi Epsilon sorority (DPhiE). None of that would have happened if I didn’t push myself to be social and make connections with people, in addition to committing to my academic pursuits. Everyone coming into college is afraid about not making friends, and is desperate to find a place. I believe that everyone has a place at Brandeis, and have found that to be true of my experience, but it took a lot of courage and a lot of prayer. I am endlessly grateful to have come to know God throughout my time at Brandeis, and can see the ways my life has been blessed in the past four years.
I had little-to-no experience in journalism when I joined The Hoot my first semester of freshman year. I simply had a desire to write, and found a community of people who shared my passion for writing, while also being able to give information to the Brandeis community in an easily digestible way. I highlighted students, professors, classes and events that showed the best of what Brandeis has to offer. I wrote opinions pieces that helped to make change. I wrote for every section at least once (even though it took me until the last issue of my senior year). I am eternally grateful to this club for all of the lessons it has taught me, and urge anyone reading this to join that club you’ve been interested in but are debating whether or not you should join it next year. You should. You never know where it can take you!
Second, you do not have to do everything. In the past, I have worked three jobs concurrently (shout-out to the Brandeis Bookstore for being the best place on campus to work), served as the Undergraduate Department Representative (UDR) for Russian Studies and ran two clubs, all on top of a four or five course-load (ending up with two majors and two minors in true Brandeis fashion). And while I survived it, it was really hard! Brandeis is unique in that its students are not as competitive with each other as they are within themselves. It is easy for Brandeis students to feel burnt out, myself included, but we need to remember that going to college is not purely about academics—although they are also incredible here, and being a Humanities Fellow changed my college experience for the better. College is an amazing time of transition where you can learn how to be an adult, make life-long connections with students and professors and also not yet feel the full stresses of being an adult, and you should take advantage of that freedom to have fun and pursue what brings you joy.
And sometimes things did get really stressful. In fact, maybe now more than ever. Navigating writing a senior thesis from home in addition to completing classes, figuring out a summer job and finding housing for the fall for graduate school (Emerson College ’22!!!) is not easy. I recognize for other students more pressing stressors such as food insecurity or WiFi/housing insecurity is looming as I type, and that I am in a very privileged position. I hope to find a way to support fellow Brandeis community members, especially seniors, as we all try to figure out how to finish off the semester strongly and positively. Again, you do not have to do everything. I firmly believe our lives are not just about boosting our resumes. But if you pursue what you love with passion and drive, and chase what makes you happy and what challenges you, you can surely succeed. And tip 2.5: it’s okay to ask for help. We’re only human.
Third, and lastly, as this is a lesson I am still learning, try to make the best of every situation. I never anticipated that my senior spring would be cut short in March due to a pandemic. I never thought that I would miss out on my last Spring Showcase for the Ballet Club, and never complete choreographing my senior dance. I never thought I’d be typing my senior op on March 11 through thick waves of tears. I never expected to have my commencement ceremonies hang in the balance of the Brandeis administration.
Despite the crushing and disappointing sequence of events that have transpired in the last week or so, I am still endlessly grateful to have had my four years of college at Brandeis University. I am thankful that The Hoot was saved from dechartering last year, and will continue to be a community newspaper for, by and about the Brandeis community (#HootNationIsThriving). I celebrate the Ballet Club’s growth and the new sisters I have met and befriended through DPhiE. The photographs and videos I have taken I will keep close to my heart. The friends and sisters that I have made, I will keep forever.
And who knows, maybe seniors will be back in May for commencement. Maybe we’ll have our annual kickball game this week before we all go home. I know next year I’ll certainly be back at Brandeis in the audience of the SCC Theater, cheering on the fifth annual performance of “The Nutcracker” and stopping by the BMC to catch up with editors working on their layouts on a late Thursday night, as I have done so many times before. From the bottom of my heart, Brandeis, thank you so much for everything. I loved going here, learning here and forming relationships here. I’m going to miss you.