I’ve been a part of the Honors College for the past 4 years, and as a graduating Senior, it has finally dawned on me that all the things I thought, not so long ago, were too far away to imagine, are finally here. Graduation, vet school, and the simply complex ideas of change were things I used to brush off, while setting up my dorm room on Move-In day, as something only kids who were really old had to deal with. Now I find myself being one of those “really old kids” and wondering how I got here. We are taught growing up to “be ourselves” and to establish our own identity through individuality. But what they don’t tell you in the midst of all the reminders to “work together” and yet still be an individual, is that the two are one and the same. Now that we have learned to work together in an artificial academic environment, we are figuratively kicked out and forced to re-learn what it means to be ourselves and to contribute to society in this seemingly strange new world, where everything your professors and colleagues say to you from a complicated, mind-blowing math equation, to the pleasantries exchanged at the door will determine your success and failure in the increasingly competitive, cut-throat society. I often wonder at a society where for many people, their biggest problem is being at the end of a long line in Starbucks while simultaneously being late for a fairly well-paying job, and even still the biggest problems for some can be the smallest for others.
I have been lucky enough to find a home in the chaos through the Honors College. The Honors College has taught me much more than base level academics – it has taught me about community and individuality. It has taught me that while we need to work together as a community, we must accept responsibility as individuals. After all, what is a community but an assortment of individuals? We as an Honors College are collectively made up of “ones”. If one person could make as much of a change as the infamous “ones” in history, we as 1,331 individuals are fully capable of making the change we want to see. At a time when it has never been more tempting or accepted to pursue narrow self-interest and personal ambition, we are reminded that there are few things more American and more admirable than doing what we can to make a difference in the lives of others. We are a family that endures because of the service of those who support it. We are a nation that guarantees the freedom to live as one chooses. We are a community that is dedicated to the proposition that all men and women are created equal. That is who we are as a people and that is who we are as a team here at the Honors College. This is what you have taught me.