The final weekend for many of us has arrived. Some think “at last,” while others brush away tears. Riding the emotional rollercoaster of the past few weeks has been a shocking look at the life enjoyed here in Storrs and at the hopeful, yet scary, future that lies in wait. Noting the times, I wouldn’t want to leave without imparting a few final words.
As we may have originally thought, the University of Connecticut is not a perfect cow town. We have our fair share of issues. As a freshman, I thought that the coldest days of January, with the howling winds and negative two-degree weather, were without a doubt the worst days of my life. Then I realized what individuals can do to each other. I saw problems of race or blame: social media fueling the fire of a few people’s prejudices. With sadness, I leave this university acknowledging these issues and yet, offering no answer to them. The worst of UConn will hopefully soon dissipate, and we can return to the beautiful cow town it was born to be.
Pushing the issues aside, as is typical of our college selves, I would like to acknowledge a few aphorisms in my attempt to reflect on all of our UConn experiences. First, a little background on our wisdom granter: Sydney J. Harris was a columnist for the Chicago Daily News and Chicago Sun-Times; he lived in the mid-1900s and wrote a total of 11 books and was famous for his column, “Strictly Personal.” Harris was the Ralph Waldo Emerson of the 20th century. Here are a few significant quotes to think about in the coming days, months or even, years:
“The whole purpose of education is to turn mirrors into windows,” wrote Harris. If we paid for four years of education, I am hopeful to think that we have experienced the world in new ways, that we have changed our perspectives. While in the first years we happily enjoyed the new freedom of college, we slowly made the transition into responsible adults (perhaps still with some flaws). With any luck, as we line up at graduation, we consider the issues of others alongside our own, and look out upon the world with the hope to change it.
“When I heard somebody say, ‘Life is hard,’ I am always tempted to ask, ‘Compared to what?’,” Harris questions. For those of us likely to complain—me—this quote hits home. Considering the alternatives, life seems incredibly easy. Yes, we have taken four years’ worth of exams and papers, stressed beyond our limits, but we have also enjoyed our fair share of success. We have celebrated one men’s basketball, three women’s basketball and two women’s field hockey national titles; we’ve won awards for being ecologically friendly, for being one of the top public universities and for our nation-leading puppet arts program; and we’ve recently joined the crusade to become one of the best STEM colleges in the nation. The focus today, and hopefully everyday in the future, should be the success, and not the hardships.
The final quote Harris emphasized states, “Happiness is a direction, not a place.” As we move into our future, I hope we chase our passions and always follow the path that makes us happy. I hope we watch puppet shows, eat buff-chick wraps and sit in a sundial garden, even when we don’t think we have the time. I hope that the small pleasures we have found at UConn will never be forgotten and that they will carry us into the next portion of our life journeys. And I hope that if this wasn’t cheesy enough, you’ll finish it with a strong UConn Huskies chant.