So, it turns out you can’t stay at Keene State College forever. You can try (I’m looking at you, admirable super seniors on your glorious victory laps), but at some point all of us are going to have to pack up and leave the magical, eccentric city of Keene, New Hampshire, and move on with adulthood.
Here we are, class of 2016. The years separating us from graduation turned into months, those months turned into weeks, and now we’re just days away from walking across that stage and into the rest of our lives.
The white fences have been set up, the chairs are in place, and our graduation gowns are eagerly staring at us from our closets. Saturday we will retire as students and become alumni.
We need to embrace the days, minutes, seconds that we have left at this college because I’m not sure what the future is going to bring — none of us know. We can’t spend time worrying if we went out too much or if we should’ve gone out more.
We can’t think about that person across the hall we should’ve kissed or that person we shouldn’t have. We can’t regret the late night Domino’s call or the hours spent at the bar on a Wednesday. The stress over tests, papers, labs, and critiques is over and there is no sense in panic.
We have to remember the feeling of that first day entering our freshman dorms, the smell of a fresh slice of Ramunto’s pizza, and that first time summiting Mount Monadnock. Bask in the glory of what it feels like to achieve “D.C. Gold” and how many times we all stuffed our faces on Local Day or from the chocolate fountain in the student center that only comes once a year.
When someone starts a chant in the D.C., when the first snow happens and we all complain about the soy sauce on Appian Way, and when the smelly trees outside the Science Center come to full bloom in April.
When we came to KSC freshman year, we had this overwhelming sense of ambition for the next four years. Who will we sit next to in class? What will our major be? How many nights should we spend over a bottle of wine with some friends?
Now that we’re leaving, it’s easy to feel like we’re losing that, like we’ve run the course and it’s all over now.
But this is just the next step in our lives. That ambition will return as we embark on a new journey.
We have this unspoken connection — all of us. We have this communal spirit that spreads down Appian Way. We are the class that survived the riots at 2014’s Pumpkin Festival, countless hours in our favorite Mason Library cubicles, and the lines outside Cobblestone Ale House or Lab N’ Lager on a Thursday night.
What we have here at KSC is something special. I’m not sure what word best describes this eclectic community that we’re lucky enough to be a part of for four years, but it’s that overwhelming feeling that we’re all here together. We’re in it together.
Whether you’re in Greek Life, a club, on a sports team, or just simply having fun with your friends every weekend, you’re part of this community.
I’m not sure if graduation is the end of this feeling, but until then I know we’re so lucky to have the opportunity to become part of the collective. We experience it together and we grow together.
When we leave this cozy corner of the world that we’ve created at KSC next week, when we say our goodbyes to the dorms, houses, and academic buildings that formed us, we have to remember these experiences.
The experiences we were all lucky enough to have together. Late Yale graduate Marina Keegan wrote in her 2012 essay The Opposite of Loneliness, “It’s not quite love and it’s not quite community; it’s just this feeling that there are people, an abundance of people, who are in this together.”
We were in this together. We still are. Wherever you go, keep your community strong. Cheers to togetherness, class of 2016. We’re going to do great things.
Stephanie McCann can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org