It’s that time of year again where gowns are donned and degrees presented. Amongst the gowns and hats, the proud parents with flashing cameras and the inspirational speeches and applause, there assemble the graduates. The apprehensive, optimistic and idealistic young minds ready to set foot into the real world. Clutching their degrees in the same hand which previously clasped the hand of their parents when they took their first steps towards education.
The long road of education culminates in this ceremony. After three or four years in UCC all your hard work and study has come down to this very moment. As you take you final few steps to receive your degree, besides the thoughts of not falling in front of the audience, there are a few things which may cross your mind.
The nostalgia of leaving behind the place where so many memories were made. Where friendships were formed, mistakes made and relationships built. The panic of leaving the comfort and security of the blanket that has been university life in order to set out into the unknown. No more student way of life to distract you from what is really happening in the world. No more rose tinted student glasses. There is a feeling of accomplishment after years of hard work. After countless long nights in the library, hundreds spent on caffeine laced beverages and evenings spent furiously printing every lecture slide off blackboard. All these efforts coming together in a little piece of paper containing your name and some form of letters after it.
As you close the door on your undergraduate life it is time to now choose which path you go down next. Being an undergrad you are not expected to know which direction you are taking in life. Leaving this part of your life behind you it is inevitable to begin thinking about the future. I’m not insisting that you know exactly where you are headed but a general idea is slightly necessarily. As the quote above says, it is important not to know where you are going but to be aware of where you are going. Now is the time to take stack of your ambitions in life, to have some sort of idea as to what inspires you and to make some sort of plans.
Don’t get caught up in the comfort of an easy life. It is too easy to fall into a job after your degree and before you know it ten years have passed. It is also too easy to get lost in the shuffle and end up in nearly the same position as you are now. You need ambition within structure. Do all the things you want to do. Plan. Do. Don’t just talk of things you want to achieve. It may sound clichéd but you are the people of tomorrow. You are the next generation of politicians, teachers, doctors, zookeepers, travel writers. You literally have the world at your feet. So take your degree and before you fall into a graduate’s state of comfort, start paying attention to where you are going to make sure you don’t get lost. Today is your day class of 2012.