Searching Traces of Your Identity

My name is Joseph Hill and I am currently a senior at the University of Oregon. I am double majoring in sociology and journalism with a concentration in public relations. As I near the final moments of my college experience, I am extremely grateful for everything I have accumulated thus far and hope that I can share my experience of college and the personal growth you undergo in it with you.

When I graduate from the University of Oregon and walk across that stage with my diploma in hand as the dawning of the future awaits me, I won’t be thinking about all the late nights I spent study for exams or complaining about the amount of coursework assigned and whether or not it will serve valuable for me. In that moment on the stage, in the pith of both past and future, it will be those moments of self-discovery and understanding that I will remember most. It’ll be the night when me and my best friends stayed out until two in the morning at the local bar sharing a basket of tater tots and sharing our fears and deepest concerns for our futures, or the long walks underneath the silvered Oregonian skies evaluating the decisions I’ve made in my life and trying to figure out what they’re amounting to. It’s these moments from college that I’ll remember most because I am truly thankful for them and what they have done for me. College provided me with the environment to achieve a sense of understanding and personal growth by encouraging me to examine those principles and beliefs serving as the foundations of my being, requiring self-reflection and introspection but also leading to self-discovery.
Now I’m not saying that you’ll find all the answers to life in college, but it does provide you an opportunity to achieve self-enlightenment and awareness. It’s a place that challenges you to critique and question your bedrock, reaffirming what you have already known or sending you off to seek that which you ultimately search for. I can’t tell you how many times I thought I had no real grasp of who I was anymore because things I was discovering about myself were contrary to what I had previously perceived. Little did I know that was part of growing up in college. It’s the reason why the person I am today is nothing like the version of me that existed during my first year of school, just like the person you are when you enter college will be vastly different from yourself towards your “victory lap” in school (a.k.a senior year). Different decisions, choices, opportunities, moments, and experiences have been reshaping and restructuring my personal foundations from the first time I set foot on the campus. These seemingly small things that happen to us regularly in the present have profound influences and impacts on our futures, placing a sense of heightened importance on the things happening around us currently. Every day we carry out things that add new dimensions to our understanding of who we are as individuals and how we fit into the commonwealth that is both college and the world. These discoveries are only the beginnings of a much larger journey, rich with rewards awaiting those.
The purpose of this article isn’t to focus so much on me and the experiences I have gone through thus far. Rather, it’s to comment on something every student in college at some point becomes attentive to. I’ve been grateful for college and the experiences I’ve had contributing to my tremendous growth as an individual, and I hope you experience the same wherever you are at.

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