It is nearing the end of April, which means that it is nearing the end of another school year. But it also means that, for many of us, it is nearing the end of our last school year. More and more real becomes the day in which we will all dawn our school-colored gowns and decorated caps with pride as our names are announced, and we take those heavy, hard-fought steps across the stage. This is our day of celebration. This is our graduation day.

As I sit now to write this article, thoughts are flooding my mind with nostalgia. Harkening back to my first week on this beautiful campus, with brand new people from different, yet strikingly similar walks of life, and a duo of Orientation Guides that were simply bursting with enthusiasm and a love for our University. At that moment, we all knew that we had arrived at the place we were meant to be. We were at JMU. We were home.

That first week seems so long ago now, and yet, it also feels like only yesterday. And ever since then, my college experience has been a roller coaster ride, one that I couldn’t have even imagined. A journey of incredible, dream-realizing highs, as well as painful, crippling lows. Some of the hardest days have made up this very year, my senior year. But through it all, I have made it this far and am hopeful for these last few weeks, as well as what may lie on the horizon. I’m still standing... and so are you.

As you, my fellow seniors, and I prepare to say goodbye to this place (for now, at least) that we have called home for four years, I have a bit of advice...make it count.

As I write this, there are now fifteen school days left (fewer by the time you’re reading this!), and for many of us, these will be our last school days...ever. As if time weren’t already precious enough, now it seems even more so. These fleeting moments are the last few that we have to eat at our favorite dining halls, hear guest lecturers, go to open mic nights at TDU, have conversations with the professors that you have made real relationships with, learn as much as you can even though you still feel like you don’t know enough, and stay up till dawn with your roommates simply talking.

The last moments of late nights at Carrier or ECL, of seeing shows at the Forbes Center, catching movies at Grafton or with your peer groups. The last time experiencing a cheesy-Thursday, or EHall brunch. The last time you get to see the sunset or rise on the quad. And, these are the last moments that you have with the many people that you have come to know and love. Make them count.

These have been some of the hardest, and yet, best years of your life. The connections that you have made will fill your heart for a lifetime. These experiences have made you who you are today. There is not much time left, but there is still time to be had. Perhaps you will experience that very thing that you never have before, or have always wanted to in these final hours.

These last weeks are yours and yours alone. They belong to you. They are the start of your next adventure. Make the decision. Take the risk. Go all out. Leave no regrets. Make them special. Make them count.