By Alyssa Walrad

If you told me that two and a half years ago I would finally be graduating with my bachelor’s, I would have told you that is impossible. My untraditional education path seeped into every portion of my life, and the last few years of twists and turns leaves me simultaneously speechless and burnt out. Yet, as finals approach, there is no better way to kickoff graduation and honor my undergrad career than performing my best, one last time. 

As a product of the Newburgh Enlarged City School District, Newburgh has been my home. Though, to say that I would be attending Mount Saint Mary’s to finish undergrad was actually never a thought. Graduating Newburgh Free Academy in 2015 and then Orange County Community College in 2018, I had every aspiration of attending Binghamton University and completing the Physical Therapy program by 2020. Life had other plans, and tragedies turned to triumphs when I moved back home and applied to the Mount days before admission deadlines. Being not only a transfer student, but also a commuter is arguably a double-edged sword in the world of postsecondary academia. Between working multiple jobs and classes, there was no time to socialize or familiarize myself with the campus. I got lucky in realizing it only takes a few people to get you through, and you find your niche easily among the chaos of college. 

College is a time for uncertainty, mistakes, endless challenges and plenty of coffee-induced all-nighters. It is also a time for growth. As students we seek answers, and sometimes take the easy way out. These shortcuts can be the best and worst of us. What they don’t tell us, is that we have to go down this meandering path for success and it is not meant to be easy. You may have to take a break for a semester, or longer like I did. Or, you may change your major four times (like I did). You’ll probably procrastinate and submit that assignment at 11:59 pm because, who really wanted to work on it anyway? All this to say, the Mount is now my alma mater, and the community that makes up the Knights are my extended family. We, the students of the Mount community, have navigated a year during the COVID-19 pandemic, which arguably could have been the best reason for all of us to give up. Yet, here we are, another semester under our belts. I will miss trooping up the insanely steep hill to the library just to watch the sunrises and sunsets, the Starbucks lady who knew my order by heart, and the Natural Science professors who guided a poor, lost biology lover into the confident, graduating senior; who loves biology even more now. Go Knights!