Monday, May 7, 2012

Reflections on Graduation

[Editor’s note] A week ago today, I graduated from college-- 8 years, 8 months, 2 universities, and 4 majors later.

There’s a lot I can say about my college experience but not all of it would be nice to say. I wish I could write a really thoughtful piece on how wonderful and enlightening I found higher education to be. I wish I had a few happy anecdotes to share or some helpful advice on how to navigate through college, but frankly I don’t.

In truth, college was a bewildering and uncomfortable time for me.

I spent a lot of time bouncing around from major to major, aimless and avoiding math. I started in Journalism because I did it in high school. I did Spanish because I did it well. I did Education because I thought it was easy. Finally, I settled on English because they were willing to take me in with my mixed bag of tricks. This is by no means to say that English was a last resort. Quite the contrary, it took a while to weed out but ultimately this is what I was meant to study all along.

I have a deep respect for and owe a great deal of gratitude to the English department at FIU. Not only did they offer a tough, rigorous, and fulfilling program, but their faculty was also incredibly helpful and encouraging throughout. There’s no doubt in my heart and mind that I’d still be lost and aimless without the professors who took an interest in me. I would be remiss not to give a special thanks to Dr. McIntire who was nothing short of indispensable as an advisor and friend. She, more than anyone else, was instrumental in my finishing and I will be eternally indebted to her for it.

The English department notwithstanding, college won't be a time I will generally remember very fondly. I’ve often compared my time in academia to being in a state of suspended animation. I was dogged by a seemingly never-ending barrage of classes while everyone else was growing up, moving away, and doing things I could only dream of doing. Indeed, I can’t think of a time in school when I didn’t wish I was doing something else. This, coupled with my math phobia and a crippling sense of indecisiveness, often made it hard to find a reason to continue.

But, I finally finished.

I suppose that’s the take-away from all this, perseverance; to work through your fears and shortcomings for a better and more complete sense of self. Enduring hardship makes you a real individual, it makes you get to know yourself, and it makes you grow up. Maybe that’s why I inadvertently resisted and prolonged college so much, because I wasn’t ready to grow up… Now there’s a contradicting thought that packs a wallop.

Anyway, college was a long and lonely winding road— one that in hindsight I don’t think I’d travel again. But looking back at the grand total of my college experience I am filled with gratitude. I walk away from all this secure in the knowledge that I can (and hope to) do anything.

C/O 2012


Jessica said...

congrats Jerry! :) You are born to be a writer my friend!

Jerry said...

Thank you, dearie 8)

Alexander Prieto said...

Needed to read this of all! what am i gonna do without you gay yoda? Travel galaxies far far away for introspective musings and gay pop culture fodder? Sounds like a plan to me. ;) So happy for you!!!!!! :D