Dear UTM, thank you…
…for proving me wrong
If you had asked me six months ago, I wouldn’t have had many deep insights about the idea of graduating from the University of Toronto Mississauga (UTM). After experiencing the majority of my university career from the desk in my bedroom, I felt disconnected, burned out, and ready to put undergraduate studies behind me.
Yet as the weeks and months of my fourth year keep ticking away, I find myself holding on to all the things I’ll miss about this chapter of my life. Conversations with professors remind me of why I first fell in love with my major. Grabbing coffee with friends is now a can’t-miss event. Even studying alone in the library makes me contemplate how beautiful our campus really is. The year has shown me that I’m more attached to this place than I’d previously imagined.
As I prepare for graduation, I’m taking with me all the ways that UTM has proven me wrong about myself. I never thought I’d have the courage to publish my writing, to present at a research symposium, or to get on a plane for the first time. But the people I’ve met throughout these four years have helped me to become a bolder scholar, leader, and person.
Even now, with three weeks left in my final term, there’s still so much to chase. Until my very last day as a student, I’ll be taking in each moment and doing my best to discover what other lessons UTM has in store for me.
…for my five-year journey
I traded sciences for business when I entered university. With absolutely no background in business, it seemed like an easy course of study to enter. I ended up dropping half of my courses and almost failed two. To make up for the credits, summer classes were the only option. But one course swerved my path and spiraled me into a direction I didn’t expect to see myself in. And thus, I’ll graduate majoring in Professional Writing and Communications (PWC) and English.
The whole idea of graduation hasn’t settled in for me yet. I only started majoring in PWC last year, and now I’m graduating in June. I kept applying to the PWC major with 2018 standards, only to find out the required courses had changed back in 2018. Thanks to Truc Tran and Professor Guy Allen, who helped me organize and work around my missing first-year courses.
What I want to tell others revolves around stress. Everyone stresses—morning, day, and night. But when you drag past it and ponder over your achievements, actions, and adventures, a wave of confidence and happiness hits your cheek muscles.
Look at me, writing an article about graduation. I almost failed first year, studied alongside academic probation in second year, and finally entered my major in fourth year. The journey may seem long, but in the end, your toes wiggle by your diploma before you know it.
…for being my safety net, and preparing me for what’s next
Like many adolescents my age, I suffer from anxiety. The term that best describes what I feel is anticipatory anxiety: fear of the unknown. Routines and schedules have always helped keep me grounded. Whenever I lose a long-established routine, like when a semester ends, my mind beings to spiral. For years, I always had the fall semester to look forward to.
But not anymore.
In less than a month, I will say goodbye to UTM. My days spent commuting to campus, attending lectures, and studying for midterms will be over forever. Never again will I eat lunch in the Instructional Building, or get lost in Davis, or submit an assignment on Quercus.
After pouring my blood, sweat, and tears into my studies over the past four years, I am ready to leave. Long gone are the fears that plagued my younger self who worried about how I would cope with the loss of the safety net of school after graduating university.
As the countdown to convocation continues, I look onto the future with the belief that everything will work out for the best. While I will certainly miss UTM, I will always cherish my rare university experience amid a global pandemic.
In a few months, I won’t remember the tests I failed or the shuttles I missed. What I will remember are the friends I met and the memories I made.
I can’t wait to see who I become. The future may be scary, but I say, bring it on.
…for my undergraduate transformation
I came to the UTM feeling unsure of myself and separate from the rest of my incoming class. Arriving at university a full year after graduating high school made me feel like I had fallen behind in some inexplicable way that would surely be obvious to everyone else. I was unsure of who to be, unsure if I really liked my program–political science–and unsure of how to succeed in this new environment.
Looking back, it feels like such a cliché to say that I am a completely different person now, but it’s true. When I think about it, I can’t deny that my undergrad was downright transformative.
I won’t say that this transformation was always easy, or that it makes the future any less daunting. The struggles I faced with my mental health and self-doubt are just as present as they were when I came to UTM. But unlike before, I know now what I’m capable of. In changing my major, I found a new passion in linguistics. I’ve worked as a teacher, and volunteered for research projects to bring understudied languages to light. I’ve even done what I thought I would never do and shared my lifelong hobby of writing by becoming a Staff Writer for The Medium.
As graduation looms, the future is no less terrifying. But while what lays ahead may be unknown, what I’m capable of and what I’ve accomplished isn’t. I hope I can continue to push myself like I did as a student at UTM, and I hope this campus continues to be a place where other students can do the same.