Senior Class Refection: Not done yet, but almost

Rachel Young

(Photo courtesy of Rachel Young)

I realize that this reflection on senior year and my time at Lawrence is a bit preemptive. Most years, these articles are written in May, when everyone is good and ready to leave dorm life behind, finally get their diplomas and get out of the bubble into the real world.

However, as we are now entering the third week of the most notoriously bleak term at Lawrence, swamped with senior projects, independent studies, extracurricular activities, graduate school and job applications and on-campus jobs that are necessary to support our newfound “I’m a senior now” going-out habits, it almost feels like that ending will never come.

Is it possible to wholly evaluate an experience that isn’t quite complete? I suppose I wouldn’t be embodying the true spirit of a Lawrentian if I didn’t at least try.

In all honesty, I never really meant to choose Lawrence. I became a student here because that was how it all worked out, but as terribly sappy as it sounds, I can honestly say I can’t imagine having been anywhere else. I’ve known that this was the right place since the very first day that my roommate moved into Colman 414, and the following week, even though we barely knew each other walked the mile — the whole mile — to Walgreens to get me Gatorade because I was sick in bed.

Though my taste for lemon-lime Gatorade has since faded, our friendship has not. In fact, I continue to maintain strong relationships with almost all of the girls that lived on my floor that year — Colman fourth floor until I die! — and their presence has been an invaluable part of my experience here.

Though I’m sure that my high school self would never have expected that I’d be saying this now, having had the opportunity to participate in cross country and track and field has absolutely been one of the most defining aspects of my college career. My team has been like my family, constantly making every workout, dinner conversation and race enjoyable.

I’m not much faster now than when I was a freshman, but I have learned how to Downer sit like it was my job, win a shower race, cheer until I have no voice left and subsist solely on peanut butter and banana sandwiches during a 12-hour period, all skills that I imagine will prove completely marketable in real life. Hey, who wouldn’t want to hire an intern who can run to get your coffee and back without breaking a sweat?

Of course, we’ve all learned a lot that will in fact be marketable outside of the LU campus. I’m constantly amazed at the academic pursuits of my fellow students and the complexities of their independent projects, whether they’re exploring rotifer migration, attempting to find new antibiotics or studying media censorship in China.

Through all of the setbacks, the weeks of that one class that I just couldn’t quite get, or that B plus that I just couldn’t quite turn into an A minus, there have truly been breakthroughs, moments where I’ve realized that I can write a great paper, and I can understand an hour-long T.V. interview in a foreign language. In the spring, when all of the honors defenses are done, all graduate school decisions have been made, job offers been accepted and we’re uncertain about what the future holds, I hope it will be the confidence in those breakthroughs that carry us all through to our next steps.

Finally, I’d like to say genuinely, and with every fiber of my being: Man, have I had fun these last four years.

I’ve had those moments that are so quintessentially college it hurts. The ones where incense are burning, indie music is playing and you’re surrounded by friends having a deep conversation late into the night.

When I’m laughing until I can’t breathe, dancing like crazy, having drank a glass of wine on a Wednesday, gotten absolutely nothing done at/in [insert location here], eaten Toppers at 2 a.m., stayed up all night, people- watched to the tune of Counting Crows at Cleo’s, eaten all of the peanuts in the VR, savored cold Taste of Thai leftovers, slept until noon, dressed up in costumes for parties and even watched the sun come up in Beijing as I was getting back to my dorm.

The list goes on and on. Even if you haven’t loved your experience at Lawrence, I truly hope that every senior can look back and think of experiences that have created what I believe is — here comes the cliché — their true “Lawrence difference.” In a way, it is exciting that I’m able to evaluate my time here well before it ends, because I know that there are more of these memories and experiences still to be had.

And so, though looking out from beneath that pile of books at frozen tundra may not be the most pleasant of senior year experiences, remember that eventually you’ll be in a place where you won’t eat every meal in one giant room with your best friends or teams and you won’t be having more than three drinks in an evening because that may be considered alcoholism.

Soon, you won’t be just a five minute walk from anyone and everyone who matters to you.

Current seniors interested in submitting a senior class reflection can email