In less than one month, I’ll walk with my classmates across Emory’s campus for the very last time. Some of us will smile and others will cry (I might do both) — but all of us will leave a different person than we were when we arrived, having been shaped by the people we’ve met and experiences we’ve had along the way.
Four years ago, I walked into Raoul, a 17-year-old girl who was unsure of herself but eager to see what the future would hold. Now, looking back at my time at Emory, I realize that these past four years have somehow turned into a limited number of days. Through each serendipitous experience, I’ve developed a multifaceted understanding of what it means to be a great friend, a passionate learner and a community advocate.
Reflecting on who I’ve become as a product of this community, I’d like to share some lessons I’ve learned in my four years:
- Find something you’re passionate about and spend as much time as you can connecting with those in that community. Whether it’s a social group, religious community, extracurricular activity or volunteer opportunity — or for many of us, all of the above — find something you love and put your whole heart into it.
- You will make mistakes during your time here — embrace them, accept them and figure out what you can learn. I’ve experienced tremendous growth from the lessons I’ve learned from previous mistakes.
- Build strong personal and professional relationships with your community — friends, professors and roommates alike. Creating meaningful relationships early will lead to more advocates on your side later in life.
- Be active on campus and meet everyone you can. You will be surprised at how many wonderful and interesting people you will meet; I know I was. Not to mention, your Emory network will follow you forever.
- Think about the legacy you will leave behind and make your mark. I didn’t think of this before my senior year, and I wish I had. Starting the Executive Women Conference is an accomplishment I am so proud of.
- Consider how you spend your leisure time. Netflix will always be there, but how many opportunities do you have left to walk in Lullwater, grab pizza at Fellini’s or go out to Maggie’s?
- Some students get caught up in the competitive college environment. Don’t try and be better than your peers — show your individuality and be different.
Long after the gold and blue, the people you’ve met, learned from and laughed with will hold a special place in your heart. This has been true for me; the people I will cross the stage with on May 13 are the people who have helped me grow, watched me get knocked off my feet and been right there to pick me back up every time. As graduation approaches, I feel humbled and exceptionally lucky for the lessons I’ve learned here at Emory that have shaped me into the person I am today: I am a person who is sure of herself, empowered by her peers and professors, and excited to take on what’s next.
Rachel Klein is from Scarsdale, N.Y. She served as the co-president of Goizueta Women in Finance. After graduation, she plans to work as an investment banking analyst at PJT Partners in New York City.