We get a lot of good Graduation advice. Steve Jobs told us in his graduation speech at Stanford that we shouldn’t waste our lives living someone else’s dream. Winston Churchill explained that we should never, never, never give in except to the convictions of honor and good sense in 1941. Ellen DeGeneres, at Tulane University in 2009, shared that whatever you do – just dance.
It’s that time of year. It’s nearly the end of May and it’s full swing graduation season. Now would be a fitting time to pass along some words of wisdom (for as much wisdom as a twenty-something can have) for those entering their freshman year of college.
The first year you will have a place to eat and sleep. Check your bill, there’s a reason that freshman have to live in the dorm and purchase some sort of meal plan during the first year. Whether you get meals in the all-you-can eat cafeteria or dining dollars you can use at the student union, the university wants two things to be certain in your life.
You will begin to do things because you want to, not because you have to. You’re in charge of your own life, you don’t have teachers reminding you every class period about the upcoming due date on your syllabus. You don’t have your mom making sure you eat your vegetables at dinner (or even making sure you eat dinner at all). You also don’t have someone holding your hand in regards to your faith. Everything is of your own responsibility now. It’s tempting to skip class, not attend Sunday Mass but just remember, that all your decisions will ultimately affect you, and you alone.
The morning will come when you will have to walk (or drive) yourself to Mass all by yourself. I can remember waking up early on the Sunday before classes and walking the seven blocks to the student center for Mass by myself. It’s funny though, as I soon met more and more Catholic girls who lived in my dorm, the walk got less lonely as the semester progressed.
You will be challenged in what you believe in. You will meet a lot of different people. There will be people who have been a hardcore democrat or republican all their life, people who grew up in different cultures, or people who have had completely different life experience than you. You have an opportunity at college – to sit and learn more about other people and the world around you. This does not mean that you have to give up what you believe in, you have an opportunity to reaffirm exactly what and why you believe what you do.
You will never be alone. Your parents, friends, family, youth ministers and parish will always be praying for you. That’s the beauty of being a member of the Catholic church. You could try to run to the far ends of the earth and never escape the community that binds us together in Christ’s love.
We are so blessed that we have wonderful college campus ministry in the Diocese of Austin. We have St. Peter’s Catholic Student Center at Baylor University, St. Mary’s Catholic Student Center at Texas A&M, the UCC at the University of Texas and the H.L. Grant Catholic Student Center at Texas State. In addition, there are campus ministries at Mary Hardin Baylor, St. Edward’s University and many other schools.
Wherever you’re going, find the Catholic ministry of student center, as much as college is about higher education it’s also about shaping the person that you’re going to be after college – that includes your faith.
And, if you can indulge me in this last piece of advice, always wear sunscreen.
photo courtesy of flicker.com/cassetteject