Some words of wisdom as you enter your last semester at StFX
Michael Gillis, Class of '87
While it has been 30 years since I graduated, I still fondly and vividly remember my final year. Admittedly, some of these memories have resurfaced as I have reconnected more deeply with X since my two sons enrolled in the school. Moreover, my memories are enhanced as everywhere I look from faculty (Mary Oxner) to the administration (Murray Kyte and Bob Hale), I see my cohorts and good friends.
During my final year, I recall being caught in that in-between world of looking back with the knowledge that I have grown and changed (for the better), and looking forward with eagerness and anticipation of further growth and, dare I say – success. In that in-between world those thoughts and associated emotions play a game of tug-of-war as you both want to move on and yet don’t want to leave the place that has helped you thrive and grow.
In the homestretch of that final year, I proudly recall wearing that X ring, grinding away on papers, preparing for midterms, while also wondering, what’s next? The mind toggles back and forth between the demands of the now and dreams of the future. With the brilliance of hindsight, I now know that there was no need to engage in that tug of war. No need to fret as the mind toggles. That final year was a time to just be me. Just be a student with all that comes with being a student.
I now recognize that my final year was my time to more deeply connect with those who would become lifelong friends (Kyte, Campbell, Blee et al). That’s the part I would like to do over again. Connecting more profoundly and deeply with those that helped me grow and thrive – be present and engaged in the community of X. The day will come when you will leave X but it will never leave you.
Cal Dewolfe, Class of ‘17
You are about to leave the undergrad bubble that is Antigonish and be set loose: either to find your way to another, larger academic bubble, or to discover your place in the “real world”.
When I was in your shoes this time last year, I didn’t take time to acknowledge my position. It’s far too easy to get lost in potential futures without stopping to appreciate the now. In an effort to stop you, my fellow Xaverians, from repeating my mistakes, I’ve prepared some advice. I’ll keep this short – both because I was told to, and because I recognize that my advice isn’t worth the time it takes to check out Ryan O’Regan’s latest Instagram post.
1. Get out more. I understand that the Pub isn’t for everyone. (Disclaimer: I’ve only been there past 10pm a grand total of three times). Still, I would recommend capitalizing on opportunities to interact with people whom you enjoy being around, but whom you wouldn’t normally cross paths with. These are people, come this June, you’ll likely never see again.
2. Don’t panic about the long-term future. In the vast majority of graduate programs, the average age of entrants is 25+. You can take a few years to enjoy life, figure things out, and still be ahead of the game by the time you decide.
3. If you know what you want, go get it. Okay, I know I just advised you all not to panic – but that shouldn’t stop all of you hyper-ambitious go-getters from chasing your goals. Don’t be afraid to fail – nobody ever changed the world without taking risks.
Leah Gray, Class of ‘18
I won’t pretend to have any authority on how to approach life at StFX because, to be honest, my experience here has not fit the mold of typical cult indoctrination. I really didn’t enjoy my first year outside of high school, and last year was a test for me as well – to say the very least. I just never came to that unadulterated admiration for the university that everyone else seems to boast about, and it seems that I will never reach that level of school pride. However, this year I have realized how much I am going to miss this place and I am only able say that because I have finally found my place within it.
I started to feel profound panic over the Christmas break when I realized that the moment I felt comfortable in the community, I will be losing the community altogether. It really irked me that it took 3 years to feel at ease and welcome in the place that I deemed my home. As upset as it made me, I also understood that the reason I was upset is because I have come to find amazing friends, encouraging faculty and classmates, a community with opportunity and togetherness that cannot be matched, and an empowering environment that has helped me realize my own efficacy. StFX provided me all of this.
That is not to say that StFX is not without its faults, as this years has made blatantly evident. But it does mean that going in to this final semester I am going to appreciate it all, soaking in those quiet study moments in the library and the heated debates in the classroom, dreading the wet walks to school and trudging up the many campus stairs, relishing the good ol’ Sodexo grub and going to town in the town. I am going to make sure to fill my mind with the many memories of Antigonish’s quirks and StFX’s charms because this semester is the last chance I will have to wear a ring within a community that deems that as celebrity status.