Thank You

[this is my last blog for this site; if you want to contact me or just follow my journey with TFA, please check out or e-mail me at–best wishes all.]

Graduation, like many transitional moments in an individual’s life, begs for reflection.

When we approach such moments, more often than not, we consider the path that led to them, its twists and turns, its doors opened and closed, and most importantly the people who entered, stayed and left, and who walked alongside us for either a segment or the duration.

Yet sometimes, when we reflect upon the path we took—in this case, the four years of college culminating in Commencement—we have a way of giving ourselves most of the credit. Amongst all the award ceremonies, colored regalia and back-patting, such a result is not surprising.

This is not to say that we ought to completely forgo acknowledging our own accomplishments. The typical Puget Sound graduate has done more than a few things worthy of recognition, spanning academia to athletics to a cornucopia of extracurricular endeavors. I know there are numerous accomplishments that I am proud of over the past four years.

A hug from Mary Thomas before taking the stage

However, alongside the pride in our accomplishments ought to be a profound sense of humility and gratitude in our knowledge of how fortunate we have been to travel the path leading to the Commencement stage. None of us, speaking for my class of recent graduates, got to this point in our lives without the help of others. And no amount of accomplishments and individual achievement should prevent us from recognizing and thanking those who helped us get to where we are.

On my final night at Puget Sound before leaving—first to the Oregon Coast and then to Mississippi a couple weeks later—I found a window of time to take a stroll, backwards, along Commencement Walk. With DMB’s “You and Me” playing subtly in my earphones, I strolled under the dusk-laden sky and peeking stars towards the Walk’s beginning at the Collins Memorial Library.

Along my stroll, I thought of how without a call from the university’s baseball coach, Brian Billings, I would never have even considered attending Puget Sound. Of how my laptop getting stolen freshmen year led to a conversation with Kelly Amendolia—then a Resident Director in Todd/Phibbs Hall—that ended with her encouraging me to apply to be an RA. Of how Dan Miller appointed me to a faculty committee as a student representative to kick off my junior year, which gave me a glimpse of the governance system at Puget Sound. Of how I happened to take a course on William Blake led by George Erving, an experience that opened my eyes to the struggles and resulting potential that academics held. Of how Garner Lanier asked me to run for the ASUPS with him—after asking a couple others—and inadvertently changed the course of my senior year.

Professor Erving and I

Beyond anything I did on my own, my entire experience was shaped by others and the doors they opened for me—and believe me, the anaphora-filled paragraph above contains only a sampling of the individuals who altered my path. So many individuals, and really Puget Sound itself, molded my experience and, in doing so, molded me. While I too contributed to this process, I spent my last walk across campus overwhelmed by a sense of gratitude for what others did for me.

I know my story echoes so many others, perhaps not in its specific chronological path but more so in its unexpected twists and turns, and its numerous opened doors. As graduates, we ought to take pride in our willingness to adjust to the meandering path we took, and our ability to ambitiously step through the doors that were opened for us. But that pride should walk hand-in-hand with humility, an awareness of just how fortunate we have been to walk these paths, to live these experiences.

We can never say thank you enough. I spent all weekend doing my best to, yet I still felt as if there were so many people I failed to thank. Friends, professors, staff, family, administrators. Thank you, thank you, thank you. Thank you.

And beyond individuals, a further, collective thank you is owed to Puget Sound. I could not imagine a more fulfilling, transformative experience than the one I just completed. Thankfully, I do not look at these past four years as distinct from those that came before, and neither from those about to soon follow.

Caret initio et fine

It lacks a beginning and an end.

It is easy to draw lines between different stages of our lives. Pre-college from college, college from post-college. Separate stages. Yet my experience at Puget Sound was greatly influenced by those experiences prior to my arrival in Tacoma, and I hope with relentless conviction that I will be able to take my lessons and growth at Puget Sound and apply them all my experiences going forward.

Caret initio et fine.

Words cannot describe how thankful I am for that.

[this is my last blog for this site; if you want to contact me or just follow my journey with TFA, please check out or e-mail me at–best wishes all.]

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