This year, I can safely say I’ve been asked 418 times what I’m planning on doing after graduation. It’s an innocent enough question that is, no doubt, intended merely so my friends and professors know where to send care packages next year; but with two weeks left until graduation, I’m more concerned with this question instead:
After us, who will remember Laclede’s?
Sure, the juniors had their “Cheaterz” then “Pierre Laclede’s,” but that was Laclede’s with a face-lift. Laclede’s with upholstered ottomans and waitresses wearing uniforms, not the gritty Laclede’s of our freshman year.
And there are more questions, too. What will August feel like without the luxury of fresh flex points? Will people still remember Doug the hot statue even though he’s moved from guarding the clock tower to Chaifetz? How can I be expected to look business casual every day, and do dyed jeans count as business casual?
These questions are scary, and so, in many ways, is graduation. For the last four years we’ve journeyed together towards reaching this goal, and now that we’ve reached it there’s the realization that in the next chapter of our lives we won’t have a cohort of classmates to laugh off some homework with then head to Fusz for ice cream.
But, what the heck, it’s the reason we’re here in the first place, right? We came here to graduate, and that’s what we’re doing.
Even if the next step means leaving Neverland forever, bidding adieu to adolescence and making brave strides towards unknown adulthood, it is sweet to know that we are leaving better than we came. We don’t depart with just a diploma to tack to our walls. We leave with things less tangible but more important: friendship, memories, wisdom and gratitude. Mistakes were made, lessons were learned, fountains were occasionally run through and we came out the better.
To SLU’s down-to-earth students who are down to explore the world, to the men and women who make Gries brunch (which is the most important meal of ANY day), to those led lectures and to everyone who planted a tulip – I’m not sure how to stop saying thank you.
When we graduate on May 17 we’ll chassé across that floor proudly, knowing where we came from even if we don’t yet know where we’re going. Taking a final, full look into the stands of Chaifetz Arena, reminding you—We were here. We are grateful. We remember Laclede’s.