The Daily Illini

A bittersweet farewell

Mariel Elopre

Mariel Elopre

By Julie Kang, Staff Writer

A little less than a year ago, I graduated from high school. It hasn’t been that long since I was stressing over standardized tests and college applications as a senior, excited to be a freshman again, this time in college.

I vividly remember walking across the stage to receive my diploma and feeling my heart skip a beat at the thought of starting a brand new chapter in my life.

While this is just the beginning for me, on May 12, the graduating class of 2018 is going to experience that same feeling I had during high school commencement, but to a greater extent. Whatever they move on to — traveling, taking a break from studying, going to graduate school, getting a job — the class of 2018 will be finishing this chapter in their lives and moving on.

Sometimes I try to imagine what I will be doing after college, and although it’s fun to think about, I always end up feeling a little scared. The reality of going out into the “real world” is daunting, and for now, I am happy in the safe bubble of University campus life.

Even as a freshman, I have already learned a lot about being a responsible adult. I am solely in charge of my own learning, doing chores, eating healthy and doing my work. If my first year has taught me this much, I can only imagine how much I will grow within the next couple of years before graduation.

When that time comes, I hope I won’t be scared to graduate, but excited to finally step out of my bubble.

Graduation, as I remember it in high school, is bittersweet. It is the transition between old and new, and having to leave my college friends will be just as difficult as it was saying goodbye to my high school friends. Whether it be in a dorm, sorority house or apartment, it won’t be easy leaving the people I lived with behind.

As of now, graduation is simply a day that is going to come whether I like it or not. I can’t fully imagine what it — and I — will be like. Although I am excited for what lies ahead, I want to take in all the University has to offer.

Seniors have told me they have grown and changed in ways they never imagined. They encourage me to look forward to these changes and improvements.

Graduation is every college student’s goal, but for me, it is much more. I want to make sure that on that day, I don’t feel scared of the future. I hope to leave proud and mindful of my path afterward. During my next three years here, I will learn and experience as much as I can so graduation will again feel bittersweet.

To the graduating class of 2018: Congratulations, and good luck.

Julie is a freshman in Media.

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