Suddenly a senior

By Naychelle Lucas

Being a senior isn’t easy, but it’s damn fun. Being able to pick your classes first and knowing all the shortcuts through campus comes with a sense of pride and authority. We’ve been through the freshman fifteen and the sophomore slump, so we’ve earned the right to walk around the University of Massachusetts a little straighter and with our heads held a little higher. However, along with the feelings of honor and achievement, I’m finding, come the feelings of sorrow and nostalgia.

I can remember freshman year like it was yesterday; back when the Pita Pit was the Pita Pit, and we had trays and plastic cups in the dining commons. Walking around campus now seems familiar and new at the same time. I take comfort in the unmistakable towering library and the goose filled pond in the center of UMass. Simultaneously, I am shocked to learn about the tunnel underneath Herter leading to Bartlett. I find myself often saying, “This is the last time I’ll do this,” or “This is the last time I’ll move into a dorm,” or “This is the last time I’ll go to a welcome back barbecue.” Suddenly, my determination to leave is laced with a desire to stay.

Walking past the cage, avoiding the circle and the curse of bad grades, I laugh to myself at the enthusiastic freshmen, wishing I knew then what I know now.

It’s the beginning of first semester, and I feel like I have my whole life ahead of me, but I also feel like I’m running out of time. I’ve gone to a spring concert, attended a football game and watched a movie on Southwest Beach, but there is so much more I want to do. I want to go to the Big E in Springfield, volunteer in Amherst, and eat in each of the dining commons on campus. With 400-level courses, an honors thesis to write, and extracurriculars, my busy days whip by like the campus wind. I feel like May 14th will be here before I know it, and I’ll be wondering where the time went.

Sometimes it doesn’t feel real. Sometimes I still feel like that doe-eyed naive freshman leaving home for the first time. However, the graduation tab on my SPIRE quickly reminds me of things to come. The job search, final grades, graduation parties and cap and gown are only a mere eight months away. In 229 days I will be a UMass Amherst alumnus.

The realization that this will all be over soon makes me appreciate life at UMass a little more. As seniors, we should all take time to appreciate the place where we’ve spent so much of our adult lives. Take it upon yourselves to take the long route to class. Walk a little slower and enjoy the scenery. Don’t think of checking out books from the W.E.B. DuBois Library as a task, but rather as an opportunity – an opportunity to take advantage of UMass’ resources while you still can. If you think you can be any help to someone on campus, instead of turning up the volume on your iPod and pretending you don’t see them, remember the times when you needed some guidance. Make a point to help that person.

Most of all, enjoy the little things. Take time away from lab reports and SPARK discussion boards to eat dinner with friends. Grab a coffee in between class at Whitmore Cafe, and read a book that hasn’t been assigned by a professor. Even if you think the night is a bust, make the best of it, and party hard because you never know what memories you’ll miss out on. You’re only a senior in college once. You’ll never have this opportunity again.

We’ve written countless papers, sat through thousands of lectures and changed majors three times. Now we’re back again to do it all over. It’s a little different this year though. This is the last time. We’re never going to be UMass undergrads again. It may be hard to imagine now, but there is going to come a time after we’ve gotten our diplomas – after our UCards have been deactivated- when we’re going to wish we had one more day to be here; one more day to be seniors. So, let’s live for the nights that we won’t remember with the people that we won’t forget. Make some noise class of 2011!

Naychelle Lucas is a Collegian columnist. She can be reached at [email protected]