by Katie Sullivan
“Goodbye for now, love you, and keep in touch.” My senior year of college a priest said these words at one of our last masses of the year; they always come back to me around this time of year when a new group of students is graduating and getting ready to move on to the next chapter in their lives.
On May 29th, I marked ten years since I graduated from college. Ten years since I left the University of San Diego and the great experiences I had as a college student. In some ways, I can’t believe it’s been that long but I think that’s at least partly because for the last seven years I have worked in higher education and gotten to celebrate with students each year as they have reached the milestone of graduation and set off for new adventures.
In my three years at DePaul, I have greatly enjoyed being part of our baccalaureate mass tradition each year welcoming the graduates and their families and celebrating with them at the start of the graduation weekend. Bacc Mass is a great time to take a breath, reflect on the journey, ponder what comes next… (you can join us Friday, June 12th at 4pm in St. Vincent de Paul Church if you’d like). Each baccalaureate mass I attend brings back memories of my own and the feelings I had as I got ready to graduate.
I remember wondering if I was ready. I knew what I was going to do after college (lifeguard at the neighborhood pool for the summer and then off to Hartford, CT, for a year in the Jesuit Volunteer Corps), but I was definitely not sure that I was ready to leave my friends and the community I had built.
So, in that vein, I’d like to let our graduates know that it’s okay to be feeling some nerves along with the excitement that comes with graduation. Maybe you’re a little uncertain – you don’t have a job or you have a job in a different city. You are not alone in your uncertainty nor will you be alone on the journey out of uncertainty. Look to your family and friends. Your mentors and role models. Seek advice. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Remember to check in with your friends even if you are spread across the country in different cities doing different things every day. It’s not about how often you talk but about the fact that you remember the other exists and you want to remain connected to them.
And, as you move on from DePaul, maybe instead of saying goodbye to your friends, say “goodbye for now, love you, and keep in touch.”
Katie Sullivan is the University Minister for Catholic Social Concerns in DePaul’s Catholic Campus Ministry office.