Ryan Chartrand

I woke up the Monday morning of dead week and the first thought that came into my head was that it was the last week of school I would ever have. The realization was a full-on blow to my world view, albeit a good one.

For many Cal Poly students, dead week marked the final time they would have homework to do or tests to study for. After this, it will be time to pack up shop and move out of San Luis Obispo, perhaps forever.

It was a strange feeling I’ve had since waking up; there’s no imminent sense of responsibility looming over my shoulder like some spectral horror. Graduation is the only thing left for me at Cal Poly, and along with it, a fulfilling sense of accomplishment.

I would imagine it’s the same for most students. While graduation from high school was nothing to laugh at, attending was also compulsory. Graduating from college is a different matter entirely. We chose to be here, to study, to dedicate four additional years of our lives toward a specialized career and now the completion of that path tastes so sweet. No longer will we pay thousands of dollars out of our savings to have the responsibility of attending classes during the day, or working part time at a job we really don’t like just to pay the bills (though I do envy those of you who received generous financial support from your parents). In just a short while, some company out there will be paying us to do the work that drives the economy. At 5 o’clock, the rest of the day will be ours: no homework, no projects, no studying until the early hours of the morning.

The claustrophobia of an academic life will fall away and be replaced with a vast sense of relief.

Every student finishing their lives at Cal Poly should feel incredibly proud of themselves. We worked hard to learn the necessary skills that will set us up for a job that pays decently and the means to enjoy ourselves in the time this mortal coil affords us.

In some ways, it’s a frightening thought to suddenly discover so much freedom. And in some ways, the college environment can never be found again. We’ve been surrounded by people of our same age and situation. The workplace will be filled with both the young and the veteran. Married couples will have dinner with their friends, and gathering up big groups of friends to go out and enjoy the weekend will become a scarce event.

More than anything, though, pride should be the No. 1 emotion while we sit on the football field. The post-ceremony celebration that is sure to last throughout the weekend should be pure and unbridled; this is, after all, the end of a life era. Make the most of the time that is left as the people that have grown with us will all be moving on as well, and this may be the last time we’re all together.

Justin Fassino is a journalism senior and Mustang Daily staff writer.

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