This is my eighth and final semester of college (the picture is of me on my first visit to EIU). I had no idea on that day that I was looking forward to the best times of my life. After 4 years, I've seen a lot. Here are a few of my most important thoughts as a soon-to-be graduate.

I have met the most amazing people. From my very first day on campus, I have met people who have changed my life in big ways and in small. I've met people who gave me confidence, and people who taught me invaluable lessons. I've learned about people from other cultures and backgrounds, and it has really opened my eyes. I've made some of the very best friends I will ever know. I've had professors and mentors who have sculpted who I will become after graduation. Not every interaction was positive, but it was what I needed to get where I am.

I've made memories. Stories that I'll tell my kids one day (and some that I hope they never ever hear). Nights out and nights in. Road trips to adventures across the country. Jobs and job interviews. Clubs and extracurriculars. All-night study sessions. Homecoming and Greek Week and Unofficial. Wins and losses. Functions and classes. All moments I'll carry with me for a very long time.

I have learned A LOT. I've learned that sometimes it takes getting to your lowest point to see what you really have. I've learned that you'll mess up. A lot. You'll mess up again and again and again. But you'll be better for it. And that you'll never regret it if you make time for yourself. I've learned that sometimes relationships don't work out and that there's no one to blame for it. And that the biggest blessings are often in disguise.

Looking back on my time at college, I've seen setbacks, I've cried, I've laughed, I've lost people, and gained new, I've traveled, I've studied (a lot), I've had fights, and kisses, and loved, and hated. And I wouldn't change a moment because it's what led me to where I am now. And I'm so thankful for everything and everyone that I have. The future is bright.

I'll end with a favorite quote of mine.

"We leave something of ourselves behind when we leave a place, we stay there, even though we go away. And there are things in us that we can find again only by going back there."
- Pascal Mercier, Night Train to Lisbon