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Thursday, July 24, 2014

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Harleen Kaur: Seizing senior year

By Harleen Kaur, Columnist
Published April 15, 2014

As I struggle to finish the papers, projects and assignments that have been piling up all term within the final week of classes, one thing I’m continually pushing out of my mind is this: I’m a rising senior. This year is when I’m supposed to create the experiences that I’ll both reminisce about down the road and reflect upon as I encourage (read: require) my children to apply to the University of Michigan. But how do I want to remember it all?

Just like yesterday, I still remember the day I received my acceptance to the University of Michigan — December 16, 2010, in case you were wondering. I remember the never-ending tears I shed on my last day of high school, singing the national anthem at graduation and attending my peers’ graduation parties weekend after weekend.

I remember getting the contact information for my freshman year roommate, meeting up with her at Navy Pier over the summer and building our list of inside jokes throughout the year. I remember attending Honors Kickoff, surviving Great Books with Mira Seo, staying up late prior to orgo exams and frantically finishing my notecard for Calculus II exams an hour before the test began.

I remember moving into my five-person suite in North Quad with four friends from my freshman year hall, completely in awe of the amount of space we had to ourselves. I remember late-night runs to the dining hall, early mornings in the CLC and the panic during the day of the “flood.” I remember receiving my rejection from the Ford School with only a month left of classes, struggling to find a major as I finished my second year and picking English because it’s always been my favorite.

I remember coming back from Manhattan to ResStaff training for my position as an Honors RA in West Quad. I remember hot nights on the fourth floor without air conditioning or an elevator, meeting my residents and taking my first classes for my concentration and minor. I remember reading novels overnight, submitting papers a minute before the CTools submission deadline (not recommended) and studying in the Union until I was forced out at 2 a.m. I remember seeing President Barack Obama, again, watching our team in the Final Four, again, and experiencing the thrill of the Notre Dame night game, again.

And yet, here I am: a rising senior.

With only one year out of four left, each moment seems even more precious. Seeing all of my graduating friends get ready to pack up and leave for the last time invokes the worst in my nostalgic self, leaving me unable to think about the numbers of days, hours and minutes we have left together.

I can’t explain the butterflies I get every time I look at my calendar and see April 22 approaching quickly. I can’t explain the uneasiness I had while signing up for my fall term, knowing that I would only have one more time to peruse the course guide after this one. I can’t explain the panic I feel when I think about how, after graduation, I’ll have to figure out what to do when I can’t see my best friend every single day. But, the one thing I can explain is how happy I am — even with all the ups and downs — to have been able to spend my last three years here. And I think it seems fitting to reflect on all of it before we start another school year for the last time.

Next year, I want to focus on obtaining an education, not a diploma. I want to attend events, partake in dialogues and form relationships that challenge my ideals and accept me for who I am.

I want to push my passions to a higher level, taking my involvement to new heights and creating a new vision for the impact I hope to leave on this campus. I want to cheer until I’m hoarse at a football game one day, challenge the institutional hierarchies and prejudices that we sometimes uphold the next day and still wear maize and blue for no other reason but school spirit at the end of it all.

I want to take time to sit in the Diag, enjoy the sun with friends and a new book and appreciate our campus for the natural beauty that it is. Next year, I want to have no regrets.

Class of 2015, let’s make this last one count. Here’s to senior year.

Harleen Kaur can be reached at harleen@umich.edu.