The biggest thing that stresses me out about graduation isn't the job hunt or paying back those high interest student loans. It's the fact that all of UB's post-graduation merchandise is grammatically incorrect. I thank my time at The Spectrum for that.
My time at the University at Buffalo has been bittersweet. I've loved, hated, lost, gained, been elated, been depressed and have been every other conflicting pair of words that I can think of. In my junior year, I retreated back to the Badlands, hoping to finish my college career a little closer to home. However, about two months after returning to the mundane existence where I grew up, I decided to answer UB's sweet calls, and I returned. I refer to this period of my life as "The Golden Years." There were only two of them. After I returned to UB, I reconnected with my old friends and found new ones. I lived with new people and was introduced to new situations. I started writing for The Spectrum. I "found myself," if you will. Isn't that what college is about? The time where you can literally make a mess of your entire life, and then fix it and call it a coming-of-age experience? If that's the case, I have totally rocked college, because my life is more often than not a huge, hot mess. However, I really do think that I have found who I am because I have found that order eventually comes out of chaos. For example, I transferred home to go to nursing school (I'll hold for laughs). When I came to the shocking realization that I didn't want that career, my 20-year-old naïve heart thought my world was over. Instead, I took the semester off, got my act together, and came back to UB with an open mind. Instead of being the girl I thought my parents wanted me to be, I tried to live out my own dreams. An avid reader for my entire life, I figured that I might as well pick English as my major. I thought to myself that I might as well get a degree in something I'm good at. Last spring, I started writing for The Spectrum because I needed an English class. Before I knew it, I was offered a spot on the editorial staff and now I cannot remember my life at UB without it. The most important thing that I've learned during my time here is not to try to plan your life, because it's the tiny incidents that totally turn your world upside-down. One example is a tale from freshman year. I was a lost, scared and sad little girl from 400 miles away who was desperate for friends. After a few weeks of hanging out with people who I didn't even like and drinking more alcohol than it was natural to consume, I asked a random girl in Sociology 101 for class notes that I had missed the week before. And the rest is history. Hi, Gill! My best friends at The Spectrum – Adrian, Dad, Shane, Ranlamb, Squid, Jamo, James, Chris, Jake and Steve – I'll miss you terribly. I owe all of my good (and bad) times to you. Also, to the rest of the staff, I have loved working with you and I couldn't have asked for a more diverse and quirky group of people to be around. I have no idea what is to come. And no matter how hard I try to fight it, I know that I can't change what is happening. I can pout, make sarcastic jokes and sulk beneath my emo hair, but I know that there isn't anything I can do to keep this phase of my life going. It hurts, but I'm beginning to accept that even though my time at UB is over, my memories and friendships are not, and the rest of my life is just beginning. After all, it's called "commencement" for a reason (I'll attribute that quote when you cut your hair). There are a lot of things that I'm going to miss and there are a lot of things that I'm looking forward to. But I think the main point is not to dwell on what could have been or what might be; I'm just going to let my life take me where it wants to go, no matter how messy it may be. E-mail: email@example.com
Well, here we are. My series finale, last episode, conclusion, end, fin. It's hard to describe the feelings that have been going through my head the last few weeks, and the flood of emotions that have been contained by a force weaker than New Orleans' levees. There is no doubt in my mind that the person who drove up to UB in a blue '05 Ford Escape three summers ago is not the same lanky, scruffy-haired kid with a somewhat overbearing personality who will be walking across the stage May 9. Nope, there have been more than a few detours and bumps in the road to get to this point. I've found myself, lost myself and found myself again. I've embraced my passion, pushed it away and gone crawling back to it like an unfaithful lover. I fell in love (twice), lust a thousand and one times more than that, and in chocolate a million times more when none of the above worked out. I've learned what it means to be a friend, and what it means for someone to be a friend to you. I've embraced the joy that comes with being around people that love you and truly care as well as the miseries of friendships that are one-sided, shallow and superficial. That being said, I am grateful today to be completely surrounded by the former. It has been a privilege to have worked with some of the best professors in English academia today – my thanks and regards go out to Professors Young and Bono in particular, and Professors Milletti and Antastasopoulos for the invaluable help with making me a better writer. It's also been a privilege to work at the best darn student publication on this campus – The Spectrum. A place I thought in the beginning would be a dreary obligation has become my rock, my home and my anchor. The beautiful, impassioned, intelligent and witty women I have had the pleasure of working closest with have given me some of the most memorable of good days, and gotten me through more than a few of the terribly bad ones. It would be a sin for me to bid UB and Buffalo farewell without giving recognition to the extremely unique living situations I've found myself in during my time here. To all of you crazy people I have had the pleasure of cohabitating with, thanks for the memories – and the stories. Don't be surprised if you see a few in the novel I plan to write one of these days. And of course, what kind of graduate would I be if I didn't give a shoutout to my most constant companion, my bipolar, temperamental dearest of dears and the most consistent woman in my life … the city of Buffalo. It's true we've been on and off more than Heidi Montag and Spencer Pratt, but I think in our time together we've grown quite fond of each other. Sure, she's not the prettiest girl on the block, or the most sophisticated, but Buffalo is without a doubt a place with heart. Ask any of the wonderful people I've met who grew up here and wouldn't live anywhere else. The winters may be cruel and certain parts of the city a little scary, but an afternoon on Elmwood Avenue gorging yourself at one of the local restaurants is an experience that is second to none. Looking through my volumes of diaries and pages of Facebook photo albums over the past three years, I realize that despite my rocky beginning and miserably dramatic middle, I have, in the end, managed to have a pretty good life here at UB. I'm leaving this university happier than I've ever been before and looking forward to a wonderful future full of many opportunities. There can never be enough words to express how grateful I am to this campus for giving me a real start in life; it makes all the years I lived in darkness almost worth it. Now, however, it's time to make the change, move on and recreate myself for the next chapter. Some people seem to think that college graduation means the end of something great, a meaningless milestone between high school, marriage and death. I disagree. For me, graduation is only the beginning of something greater. I don't know about anyone else, but I fully intend on having fun, enjoying life and staying fabulous, whether I'm travelling the world, earning my Ph.D. or raising a gaggle of children. All of which is on the agenda, in due time, of course. The end is near, everyone. And I'm ready for the next step. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org