June 19, 2011 - 11:30 PM
Endings are always bittersweet. Looking back on an era, you see smiles and you see frowns. You rode the highs and you cursed the lows. You were shaped by the moments where you had to choose, by the lessons passed on to you by those who had been there before. I have been writing this blog for the University of Oregon Annual Giving Program now for three years. It is my Internet legacy, chronicling my junior and two senior years, each pivotal mini-journeys that pieced together the larger picture. I have been a University of Oregon alumna now for about a week and, as I sit here now in my little studio up in the woods, it is with bittersweet eyes that I watch the clock count down the moments until my Eugene departure.
The way I put it, to humor those who ask about my experience as an undergraduate at the University of Oregon, is to say that the only thing that ever makes me doubt my decision to come here is how much more financial aid I could have received staying in California. Tens of thousands of out-of-state student loans later, the University of Oregon was, without question, the right path for me. I developed my interest in public service through meaningful work in the Lane County community. I met my best friend living in the postage stamp-sized dorm rooms of the Bean East housing complex. I traveled to Greece, New York, Atlanta, and Israel to complement the lessons I was learning in the classroom. I met dedicated faculty and staff who opened my mind and changed my life - Rhonda Smith, Laura Leete, Louise Bishop, Peter Quint, Bob Choquette, Richie Weinman, Chris Eckerman, Elizabeth Reis - just to name a few. I fell in love with this city and with this university and will always carry a piece of it with me as I go out to find new places to call home across the United States and the world.
All that being said, endings are bittersweet. Although I loved so much of these past five years at the University of Oregon, I look back upon them knowing that they did not come with just rainbows and smiles and that I cannot simply hold the University on a pedestal. This is not a criticism of the University, but rather a simple reality. I believe anything of value must have the potential, the opportunity for growth and change. Like many things in this world, the University of Oregon cannot be expected to be a perfect entity, but it can, and does, show itself to be an entity that strives for perfection. As I took in the beauty of the Duck experience, I also struggled with the sometimes far too blatant disregard of academics for athletics. I let the endless typos and poorly reported stories of the Daily Emerald get far too deep under my skin. I watched the College of Education terminate the career of a good man and an excellent teacher through disturbing and disgusting acts of discrimination. I fought an epic internal battle trying not to give up completely on my generation. However, these battles were often the ones that taught me the most, the ones that made me want to work hard to create positive impacts in the world.
My advice to the Ducks of yesterday, the Ducks of today, and the Ducks of tomorrow is simple - be passionate. Live, learn, love, teach, volunteer, protest, write, petition, applaud, advocate, party, sleep, explore, travel, read, cheer, do anything, do everything - but do it passionately. Things will not always be easy and fun, but they will also never just be difficult and sad, so soak it in. Embrace the stress, angst, fear, and sadness, but do it alongside the happiness, joy, peace, and relaxation. Take it all in and use it to create something good in the world. Turn it all into your passion. As a professor in the Planning, Public Policy and Management department once told me, "Do good - it's all that matters."
The final piece of this blog on endings is the answer to "the big question." So, what are you going to do with your life now? What's next? What are your plans? Ladies and gentlemen, loyal readers of my blog, fellow citizens of Earth, the answer to your questions is this - I do not know. For now, I shall move back home and blissfully live off of my parents while I apply for jobs and contemplate my navel. For a period of time, I felt like I had to hide this, as if I had to have some sort of concrete next step to prove that I was a success of the college experience. I am finally coming to realization that I don't need to. Regardless of these next few months of limbo, I will be fine. Why? Please refer to the above paragraph. It doesn't matter whether you graduate with the optimal job in Washington, D.C. or with a question mark, as long as you live your life passionately and set out to do good. All will be well. If I am still unemployed and living at home by mid-September, please send your encouraging remarks and remind me of this blog post.
Dear faithful followers, it has been an extraordinary three years. I wish you all the best. Farewell.