I’ve made it this far because….

rachel-grad

Graduating high school… it seems so long ago.

I’ve just finished up my fourth year and, while I am not quite done yet, I want to reflect a little bit on my journey so far.

You hear it all the time, “Time flies,” but you don’t really think about it until you get closer to your graduation and think of all the great memories you have.

I remember vividly the day I moved into residence. I remember my first class. I remember my first team practice. I remember my first stressful late night studying. Through it all, I think of the journey and what a wonderful experience my university life has been at UVic.

I’ve made it this far because of:

1. My parents: who supported me when I moved away from Edmonton, Alberta to Victoria, BC to pursue my athletic and academic dreams. They listened to me on the phone when I raved about my exciting, new experiences and when I cried, feeling overwhelmed and scared (both still happen, that’s all part of growing).

2. My professors: who were so accommodating when I was feeling overwhelmed while learning how to balance school, my track team commitment and my health. They allowed me to make up for exams or classes that I missed while away at a track meet and spent time, during their office hours, explaining concepts I was struggling with so I would do well in class. Thank you for your enthusiasm when teaching, which drew me into the history and writing program and made me excited to be in class.

Community is so important! Surround yourself with positive & driven people.

Community is so important! Surround yourself with positive & driven people.

3. My friends: who I met through class and through extra-curriculars (my team, Vikes community, getting involved in UVic initiatives). We figured out the material together and were able to help each other through those tough assignments and tests. It was  important – staying accountable to myself and to each other. I have made friendships which have continued long past the end of class.

As for people I have met outside of class, you have kept me balanced and relaxed and you’ve taught me through your own experiences in university. One of the best realizations I had regarding class is that everyone has felt overwhelmed. Even if some do not come off that way when speaking up in class (appearing as though they have their life and assignments figured out), I guarantee they have felt the same way all of us feel from time to time.

4. Learning the importance of prioritizing: The biggest lesson of my undergrad is that I cannot do everything perfectly. I need to let go of the things beyond my control.

I have learned that, sometimes, in order to do the most important thing well, you have to let some other things slip through the cracks a little. Sometimes, pulling an “all-nighter” might not be the best idea – getting a good  sleep and having less time to study may be a better long-term plan. There are times when you have multiple assignments which are all due at once and figuring out the most important way to spend your energy or time is an essential skill to learn.

5. I have been taught that my grades and results in my sport do not define who I am: I have had my fair share of both terrible races and terrible assignment marks. It’s easy to put those numbers up as something that defines you – but just as a 99% in a class does not define you as a better person, a fail does not define you as a bad person. It sounds childish, but it is all too true.

Life gets in the way sometimes which affects results. Stuff happens and you move on. You do better the next time without letting things like numbers and grades get you down. Remember why you are in school – to learn. If you have learned something, that is important in itself.

6. In order to get the most out of university, I have immersed myself in the culture – getting to know as many people as I can and giving back when possible through volunteering and sharing what I’ve learned. I held a work study position with the Vikes Communications office to gain experience in a field that I love and, in turn, I was able to meet more people and be more involved in the Vikes Community.

University is much more than books and tests; it teaches you the value of going outside of your comfort zone, expanding your horizons and forging your own path. These are skills that you carry with you for life – and I’m so happy I still have another year to figure it all out even more!

Here's me closer to being(?) an adult -- and happy!

Here’s me closer to being(?) an adult — and happy! (Photo by Shai Anne Davis)

Rachel

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