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A Letter to the Graduating Class of 2017

During my five years at Trent, I would occasionally find myself sitting up on those over-sized rocks (obviously not a geology major), waiting for the East Bank bus to pull up in front of Gzowski, asking myself the same question. It’s one that you might find yourself asking from time to time as well. The question was: What does it mean to be a Trent student?

However, then my thoughts would meander elsewhere, to the kegger happening later that night, or to what kind of burrito I was going to eat for dinner.

Even though I knew that going to Trent meant I had responsibilities, most of them academic, I was unsure of the other things that made being a Trent student important. The reason I constantly thought about that question was because I knew that there were some things more important to my growth as an individual than going to every single class (trying to go to every class…) or taking thorough notes (trying to take thorough notes…).

I spent so much time trying to figure out the answer to that original question, that I often forgot to just be a part of what was happening around me. Never before my time at Trent had I been surrounded by such creativity, intelligence, sense of social justice, and goodwill.

My one piece of advice I want to humbly offer is to always keep your eyes and ears open. Whether you’re sitting on the bus or walking around campus, just be an active participant in all the exciting things happening around you.

Your time at Trent moves fast, so you have to move faster. It’s too easy to fall into a routine of passivity—waking up, going to class, coming home, doing homework, going to bed. It isn’t important to worry about what it all means just yet, so you should just live in the moment.

Don’t forget to be a part of what is happening around you.

It was only when it was all said and done, when I had received my diploma, that I finally realized all of this. The answer was everywhere around me, from the LEC cafeteria to Bata Library to the DNA Building. I didn’t figure it out through some kind of epiphany or existential awakening, but rather by coming to understand that the university experience (Trent U specifically) is a personal journey.

What it means to be a Trent student will mean something different to everyone, but this is what it meant to me.

You’ll meet people who agree with you, and others who don’t. You can argue and defend your beliefs, understand other viewpoints, and compromise without compromising who you are or what you went to university to accomplish. Looking back, I realize that all of the above added to what Trent meant to me. I’m now conscious of the fact that my worldview was formed just as much within the walls of Wenjack, as it was at the bus terminal on Simcoe or at Pig’s Ear Tavern.

To me, that is a wonderful thing. Look for those places that speak to you. If you keep your eyes and ears open, you’ll be able to answer the questions you find yourself pondering about while waiting for the bus, too.

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