Editor's Note: Alix Cirac is set to walk the commencement stage this weekend as an Honors graduate from the Reynolds School of Journalism. She is also a student intern for the University Media Relations office.
A word starts to sound funny if you say it enough. After 16 or 17 times, it begins to sound alien, like it’s made of different, even foreign letters than those that you know compose it. This is how the word “graduation” sounds to me. After six years of attending the University of Nevada, Reno (yes, six — which, for the record, makes me a super, super senior), I have thought about “graduation” often.
And this fall, throughout my final semester, I have thought about it a lot. So much so, that the word sounds different every time I say it. Sometimes it sounds funny and doesn’t make sense, and other times it sounds bland, just like “eraser” or “textbook.” Each time, a different feeling accompanies the sound—I can hardly explain how to say the word at this point, let alone describe how I feel about it.
What I do know is that my years as an undergraduate at the University have been amazing. This campus served as the backdrop to so many personal milestones. I turned 18 and voted for the first time. I lost my first love and found another one. I got an F. I studied abroad in Ghana through USAC. I learned the balance between social and academic life (at least I think I did). I got an amazing internship through the Reynolds School of Journalism at the University Media Relations office. I wrote countless papers, took hundreds of tests and learned so much about so much that I can hardly believe it.
The University has been so instrumental in my success over these years. The professors here have taken a stake in my personal and academic development. They have challenged me, pushed me, and driven me a little crazy. My classmates have taught me as much, if not more, than the professors. We struggled together, studied together, celebrated together. Many of them have become good friends, a few of them life-long.
There are many things that I will miss about being an undergrad at the University of Nevada, Reno: the spring rolls with that delicious sweet and spicy chili sauce at the Overlook; the beautiful changing of the seasons, from summer to fall, and winter to spring; Wolf Pack sports; concerts in Nightingale Hall; the feeling of searching for the right classrooms at the beginning of each semester; the professors, mentors, and classmates who offered such a supportive environment; room 102 in the journalism school; having a productive night of studying at the Joe or Knowledge Center; Frisbee on the Quad; amazing guest speakers and lecturers; and I could go on and on.
To be fair, there are some things I won’t miss; parking tickets, midterms and 17-year-old textbooks are a few of them. Oh, and finals after graduation.
I’ve heard that the best thing parents can do is raise their children to be able to live without them. Nevada has done this for me and the 1,500 other graduates who will celebrate on Dec. 6. As terrified as I feel sometimes that I am leaving the bosom of the University, I know it has prepared me to enter the big bad world. I know that opportunities abound for me because of my experience here. I can do anything—travel the world, start a career, continue on to graduate or professional school, start a family, anything. Whatever I decide, I know that everything I need, the University of Nevada has offered to me.
So I’ve decided to stop repeating the word “graduation” to myself every day. To clear the meaning up for myself, I looked it up. “To receive an academic degree or diploma,” is the definition in the Merriam-Webster Dictionary. Which is great, but still a bit bland. It still sounds funny coming out of my mouth.
Instead, I’ve decided to heed the University’s advice once again and use the word “commencement.” Merriam-Webster defines it as “to have or make a beginning.” This sounds much more exciting to me. If I must leave Nevada behind, it’s because I can take everything I’ve learned here and choose to do something new, something real, something passionate. I can make my beginning.