I’d like to first address the congratulations you deserve upon your graduation. You undoubtedly have noticed, as your career at Brock progressed, that there are fewer of us around as than there once was, particularly at the beginning of this journey. Decreasing class sizes correlate with upper year courses for a reason – university education is not for everyone, and many people come to grips with that, regrettably, while they are in university, only to fail or withdraw.
This is not mentioned to belittle dropouts, but to serve as a reminder that what you’ve done for yourself is special – something that many just like you could not do.
Congratulations will come duly in droves when you do finish your final duties at school, so let me move onward.
I decided to write this piece because the proposition of me addressing our graduating class myself in person is substantially less realistic than I deem it should be. Chiefly, I wanted to express something I’ve had on my mind as we edge closer to final goodbye.
University is a place to learn. All jokes aside, (and there are many jokes) the point of attending Brock University was to learn. You might see it as a stepping stone to further education, or as a means to an extremely expensive piece of paper at the end of a gruelling foray through miscellaneous books, recycled slideshows, dismal weather, and alarmingly squeaky seats. But you shouldn’t.
It very well could be those things to you, but you’d be making a tragic mistake in only seeing it only that way.
Think about the curriculum that you explored and what it means to you as a person. Are you going to implement quotes you’d memorized from a Shakespearean work at any point in the real world? Are you going to be required to perform monotonously frivolous statistical analyses on numerical data accumulated from God only knows where? Or will you ever need to prove your acquired ability to differentiate between varying phyla of animals?
Depending on what your future entails, maybe. Likely, even. You might not. But that isn’t what I care about.
What I want you to think about now is your education outside the context of course curriculum. The questions I asked above mean nothing to you reading this right now, even if you happen to be an English, Mathematics, or Biology major. But ask yourself this – did I learn anything about myself at university? Perhaps you learned how to use people as resources – getting help or guidance during the office hours of a professor or instructor. Maybe you learned that you’re funny, or that you’re good at conversing with people. Maybe you learned that you quite like speaking in front of crowds.
Did you learn how to think differently than you did before university? Did you learn to consider circumstances before you made assumptions or judgments? Did you learn how to accept people for who they are, or equally as important, did you learn to reject people for who they are?
These are a handful of ways that university has changed me. But the larger point I’m trying to make is that course-related knowledge aside, I learned plenty indirectly by going to university coinciding with what I was already being force-fed in class. You can ask yourself questions of a similar nature, and hopefully surmise that you’ve changed as well. I am certainly smarter after graduating university, but possibly in a way that would be considered unconventional.
Class of 2015, I’m pleased to be a part of you, I learned what I learned and I hope you did too.