I wasn’t going to write anything. I have been pretty prepared to move on to the next chapter of my life for nearly a year now, heck probably longer. When you’re taken away from the community that you once had due to unforeseen circumstance, you don’t really know what to do. Well for me, it felt easy. Looking forward. Looking to life after college. But as I sit here after graduation concluding, it’s nearly impossible for me — a writer — to do anything but write how I feel. While my time as a Merrimack College student is over, it will never leave who I am.
When I walked into Merrimack College in 2017, I was a whole lot different. Scared, nervous, and curious about the unknown. I picked Merrimack because I will admit it, I wasn’t ready to fully leave home yet, but I was ready to experience college life in some sense. I looked at college for what it was though — the next step in life and nothing more. I needed to capture that degree that allowed me to chase my dreams. And that mindset never really drifted from there. But as I sat there today awaiting commencement to be over, I realized all the great people I was able to meet.
Whether I now call them friends or they were professors who helped me along the way, I am more grateful now than I was then. As I said, it was a dash to the finish line for me. But there was no way I am where I am at this very moment without them all. They pushed me to be better… scratch that. They pushed me to be the BEST version I could ever be. If I started naming names, this would never end. You know who you are and I am grateful, thankful, and happy to have you in my life for the rest of it.
I would also be wrong to not thank the world of the family I have. They pushed me to a place I never thought I could be in high school. They allowed me to grow at my own pace and become the person I am today. I will never, ever be able to put into words how much my family means to me. There’s not a perfect word for it. So rather, I will go with this — I love them and they are everything to me.
The reason I wasn’t going to write anything is because I never thought I would feel the… sadness that I actually am right now. Don’t get me wrong. I am happy it’s over and I am onto this incredible new part of my life — but Merrimack gave me more than I ever expected. So I had to write something. It was only right.
Merrimack and I, especially over the past year, have had a very interesting relationship. Not all of it was perfect. It wasn’t always the pomp and circumstance that they want you to feel on the final day of your time there. It was at times rocky, frustrating, and annoying. I knew what I was getting into as a commuter and eventually as a remote student. But it’s wrong I blame them for my missing sense of “community” at times. I needed to make myself feel included, that was not their job. And I fault myself more than anyone when it comes down to that as I sit here, officially graduated.
I don’t want this to feel like a slight to Merrimack. Without this incredible school and the spectacular faculty that gave me the tools to be where I am today, I really do not know what I would be doing. I interned at NESN thanks to this wonderful school. NESN! I have said to people in the past things that I didn’t fully mean. When I sit back tonight and take it all in, here’s what I am left with:
I am proud to say I am a Warrior.
At times it took me a while to admit that. But Merrimack College, as I stated, built me up, gave me opportunities I could have never dreamt of, and has me ready to go for my next chapter. I love Merrimack and everything it has brought me over the past four years.
So to all those Warriors who became alumni alongside me today, congratulations. What you did is an achievement that no one will ever take from you.
To my family, thank you for everything. Every up, every down, you were there.
To those people, I met during my time there and have become my friends — Just know that while I may not always show it, I am so honored to have you in my life and hope to continue these friendships into infinity and beyond (There’s the Toy Story reference).
Merrimack College. It was truly a pleasure.
Now onto the next chapter.