ONYANGO: Peace, love and family

The most valuable aspect of our undergraduate experience is the people around us

So, I went home this weekend. Going home for a lot of people is good for the soul, but this weekend, for me, it was even better for the soul. It was almost magical — probably because I know, with graduation looming upon us, moments at home become even more invaluable. As we are embarking on our next journey as fourth-years, we are beginning to realize what and — most importantly — who brings us the most value. As I was driving home, I began to think about what the word family meant, and I began to reflect on the interconnectedness of traditional family, friend family, University family and how we are all interweaved.

Family isn’t just about treasuring friendships, but rather about the ways in which our family constitutes many different factions of people who do not always include the members of the “traditional” family. Some of the best moments I’ve had at the University and in my life have been sitting in my apartment, on the floor of my living room, chatting, laughing, dancing, eating, debating, listening, crying and playing games with people who give me value and whom I bring value to as well. There comes a time in our university life in which the people we see every day — our going-out friends, study buddies, etc. — become a larger web or link in our families. They become the people you entrust with information, the people you run to when you receive great news and the people you want to share life’s hilarious moments with. As life begins to pull us in different directions, it’s important to take the time to invest in those people we value.

When you speak to the average first-year, one of her first worries tends to be, “will I make friends?” Everyone back home tells her that her lifelong friends come from college, and then she laments and says, “but I haven’t met mine yet!” When you’re a first-year, it sometimes seems like everyone around you has met those people, except you. Then years go by and throughout your time at the University, somehow it just happens, and you meet those people. By the time you get to fourth year, it’s weird to even look back at your first-year self and think about those worries that seem minuscule today.

As members of the graduating Class of 2014, our time here as undergraduates is slowly dwindling, and while it’s fun to reminisce, it’s sad to realize that this journey is coming to an end. What makes it wonderful to be moving on is not just our accomplishments as students; it’s that although our physical presence may be leaving the University, the people we’ve met — the people we value — are going to be with us, even after we walk the Lawn for the final time as undergraduates. Sometimes as fourth-years we worry and say things like “who will I really speak to after we graduate?”, but then I remember how we felt as first-years, scared about making our lifelong friends, and somehow it all worked out. Three years later we’re wondering how we ever lived without those people we thought we would never meet. I think it will be the same thing for post-graduation, three years from now, at Young Alumni Reunions, Black Alumni Reunions, Homecomings, etc. We’ll wonder why we were ever worried about something like that.

So, enjoy every moment with these people who have become a part of your personal family, show them love. If you haven’t realized who those people are, there is still time; if you have, know that it may change, but invest in the people who you love to be around now. These moments are precious.

Marymagdaline Onyango is a Fourth Year Trustee.

Published March 17, 2014 in Opinion

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