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The Daily Cardinal Est. 1892
Monday, June 24, 2024

Students pose for a photo with Bucky Badger at the convocation ceremony held at the Kohl Center.

The start of a new chapter at college: Appreciating the past and embracing the future

Entering college can feel like losing connections to old friends, but it provides crucial opportunities to create new ones.

I remember high school graduation like it was yesterday: the palpable excitement, the bittersweet farewells and the overwhelming sense of possibility for the future.

But a sense of apprehension also lingered. Choosing a college, knowing it would be one of the most momentous decisions in my life, was undeniably stressful. But once the choice was made, the pride I felt for becoming a Badger filled me with the most excitement I had ever experienced before. 

The transition from high school to college marked the end of one chapter and the beginning of another — a journey filled with uncertainty and conflicting emotions while navigating young adulthood. 

During this new slice of our lives, we are aware of the sacrifices we must make such as the friends we leave behind and the security of our childhood homes. It feels like a loss, but in some ways it’s a gain. 

College is also about more than just academics. It's about making new friendships and finding new interests. It's about learning to figure out the complexities of adult life and balancing our coursework with extracurriculars, jobs and friends. It's a time of exploration and self-discovery as we learn who we are and who we aspire to become.

I learned so many lessons these past two years, but the one that stuck with me the most was not to worry about what others think and to do whatever you want to do. 

I am sure you’ve heard it many times before, but truly, other people don't have to go to bed at night with the decisions you chose to make, you do. Don’t worry about what you think you should be doing, use this time to explore and pave your own path. 

I felt this way when making friends. I had a lot of great friends in high school, so I was nervous I wouldn’t find that same connection in college, but I was wrong. I joined so many organizations on campus from being on the executive board of my sorority, to now also being an editor of a college newspaper. 

There's so many avenues you can go down and so many different kinds of people and friends to make in classes and in organizations. I promise you will find your people, no matter how daunting it sounds. 

As I reflect back on my freshman year at UW-Madison, I am struck by the profound impact it has had on my life. While steering  academic challenges and supporting the personal growth that comes with college, I found myself meeting some of my closest friends. 

It's remarkable to think that some of these friendships began simply by keeping my dormitory room door open to invite conversations with other new students.

What's even more striking is the way my circle of friends has expanded, rather than replaced, my relationships from high school. While I remain close with friends from my hometown, my new friendships at UW-Madison brought fresh perspectives, experiences and support, serving as invaluable additions to the tapestry of my life.

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That time of transition in my life had been a testament to the power of embracing both the past and the future. 

As I look ahead to the years to come, I do so with gratitude for the friendships that have supported me so far and excitement for the future friendships to be formed and the memories to be made here at UW-Madison.

It’s the people we meet along the way who truly shape our college experience and leave a lasting mark on us. Recognizing and cherishing old memories allows us to have an open heart for new experiences. 

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