I am a proud pirate of East Carolina University, but the finish line is approaching at an alarmingly rapid rate, and I find myself reflecting on the last three years in the purple and gold nation. There have been some ups and downs, much like every part of your life will have, but college is a totally different time in your life than any other. On one hand, you are mostly thrown into adulthood. Unless you are extremely fortunate, you have to find a way to pay your way through school, you have to start paying your own bills, and generally being more responsible for yourself and your well being. However, you are still part of a tight knit community of other people who aren’t quite ready to embark upon the real, real world either. College is the time that people can take the time to discover who they really are outside of their hometowns and away from the people that they have known their entire lives, but all while being productive and attempting to obtain a future for themselves. College students somehow find a way to balance all of their classes, meetings, clubs, homework, studying, partying, working, and general friend time. Looking back on the last three years, there are things I wish I had done, things I wish I had done differently, and things that I maybe shouldn’t have done, but such is life. The closer that I get to leaving, the more that I realize things will never be the same. I won’t have a meal plan that I can swipe whenever I want. I won’t see most of these people ever again. I won’t be able to stay up until 4:30 in the morning doing random things with my friends anymore. Somehow, this is okay. The truth is, we all knew when we started college that it would have to end sometime. The real purpose of all of this was to come out on the other side with a degree, but I will come out with so much more. I just didn’t realize how bittersweet it would feel until it snuck up on me like this.
In May of 2016, I will walk the stage, dressed in my purple gown to accept my diploma, probably bawling like a little baby and half wanting to run back across the other way and start all over. I will be the first person in my family to graduate, and I will get to be what I have always wanted to me; a teacher. And I will have 4 years of amazing memories under my belt. I could not be more proud to have spent the last three years, and soon to be four, as an East Carolina University Pirate. I vow to make this last year one to remember, no matter what. So, here’s to the sports games, the nights out, the nights in studying way too hard, the late night trips to get caffeine for studying but getting sidetracked and not coming home for hours, eating in the dining hall, meeting new people, and anything else that comes my way. Here’s to the university that will have prepared me to walk that stage when the time comes and here’s to all of the people that attend this beautiful university. Enjoy your time here. Soak it all in, because one day you won’t be a student, you’ll be an alumni.