By Mylan Hawkins, Opinion Contributor
During my time at Canisius, I have grown, changed and come out the other end partially scathed. When I went into college, I thought I would be able to conquer it, dominate it and come out an even better person. While those things did happen, there were other things that happened to me I would have never thought of but needed in order to grow.
Might as well address the elephant in the room, COVID-19. This pandemic, which at the time completely shattered my dreams of a normal college experience, showed me how to think of the world outside of the proverbial four walls I was accustomed to and reminded me that college is truly what you make of it.
As I see incoming first-year students figuring out the Canisius landscape, I want to remind them that college is never going to be what you want and expect it to be. It will be just exactly what you deserve. You make choices each week, month, semester and year, and in the end, it will dictate how you go about college. This is not meant to sound scary but rather serve as a reminder that each and every one of us is in charge of our own destiny.
Canisius is such a small community, but one that has so many people guaranteed to help you. I never envisioned myself going to a college where everyone knows each other and then some, yet that is how I was shown how a true community looks and thrives.
While at Canisius, I have gotten to be a part of so many communities. I was a communications major and got the chance to be a part of that community, in which people showed me how to tell my story and how to be heard.
I got to be in the All-College Honors program, which showed me that learning is fundamental and our professors are really masters at their own lives and particular expertise(s). I got to be in the Undergraduate Student Association, which showed me how important it is to be a part of something bigger, as well as being engaged.
Finally, from day one I got to be a part of the Urban Leadership Learning Community (ULLC), which showed me family is not the one you are born into, but it is the one you create. To my ULLC brothers and sisters: I will miss you dearly upon my graduation. Canisius has been my home these last few years, and the person that came out on the other side I am proud to see and cannot wait to further discover with the experiences I had here under my belt. It will definitely be hard to say goodbye.
My last words to the first years / almost-future-sophomores is… make sure to have fun and laugh. Be present. Remember that one class or grade will not break your college career. Always engage with your professors (even if just for a moment). Lastly, learn to say “no,” and get comfortable saying it.
It has been great being a Griff. GO GRIFFS!