On May 27, my first group of residents that I had as a resident advisor graduated from Saint Mary’s. If I was in California this summer, I would have tried to go, but sadly, I was unable to make it. Still, seeing all my residents in their caps and gowns, toasting champagne and concluding their years at SMC made me emotional. For one, I was so proud of them. Second, I saw them when they entered SMC and it’s been fun to watch them grow and find their voices and become who they are now. Naturally, there are residents I keep in better contact with than others. Still, the thing about being an RA is this: you make an impact on them, but they make an equal, if not greater, impact on you. So many of them have grown immensely, have become leaders, have become writers, activists, and some will go on to graduate programs. Obviously, this happens with each college class, but it feels different when you met them at the starting line and now they’re crossing the stage, diploma in hand, cheering loudly at the finish line.
I probably sound sappy, and maybe I am, but it’s also fun to see where your residents end up. When I was in California over spring break I visited my alma mater and ran into some of the residents who just graduated. One of them told me he changed his major to English (my major) and he became an RA to first years, which was so exciting and fitting. Another resident told me she got a full-time job post-grad at a major San Francisco accounting firm. The accomplishments of my residents make me so proud of them and I love to see how they’ve blossomed into the young professionals they are. Perhaps it makes me happy because I remember how I felt and who I was my first year in college and then how I felt and who I was leaving college. Saint Mary’s is named one of the colleges that change lives, and I know that was true for me. Saint Mary’s, in many ways, is home for me. I am so appreciative of the time I spent there and the change and growth it fostered in me, and so to see the college have a similar effect on my residents is incredible.
To my residents who graduated, and to anyone graduating college, I say this: the next year will be hard. You may love it or you may find it challenging, but you’ll likely experience a sense of change. You won’t be in Moraga come August like you have for the last four years, but you are starting a new chapter, and in that there is excitement. Know that while you may struggle, may feel displaced, and may miss college so badly it causes a physical ache, you have memories that can never be forgotten and people who will be with you for life. Transitioning from college to real-life or graduate school has a steep learning curve, one much steeper than between high school and college, in my opinion. BUT, the College has prepared you and you are ready to tackle the world and make a new start for yourself. When adulting sucks, remember the feeling you had on graduation day. The one that is equal parts “so glad I’m done with this f*cking place” and “gosh, I’m going to miss this.” You know the feeling. Remember it, and remember that you can accomplish whatever you set your mind to.
Forgive me if that sounded a bit like a graduation speech, but I honestly have always, since the day that first group of residents entered Assumption Hall, wanted the best for them. So, go out into the world and build your empire, cultivate a legacy, and remember, GO GAELS.