June 15, 2010 - 10:00 PM
Thank you, to all of you who have followed my blog this past year. I have enjoyed sharing my experiences with you and likewise, I hope you have enjoyed being a part of them.
For my last message to you I'd like to share the things I'm most going to miss about Eugene, and the things I'm most looking forward to in the future. Thanks for supporting the University of Oregon, and GO DUCKS!'
TOUGH TO SAY GOODBYE:
1. The sense of community and belonging. Eugene will always hold a piece of my part. So much has happened in my life here, so much has changed; it would be impossible to forget. Eugene is spilling over with opportunities to be taken advantage of. Everyday it felt as though there were something new I'd like to try. And though it all, Eugene always felt like a small town I could count on. Familiar faces were around every turn, professors remembered my name and my course of study, and I always knew there were some things I could count on. Birkenstocks, for example, have never seemed so fashionable.
2. The beauty. Eugene, as a location as well as a spirit, is stunning. I was always so engaged here. Whether I had the time to go to the beach or head to the Cascade Mountains, or all I had were five minutes to walk down the street to a local park, the refreshing beauty of my surroundings always floored me. Can the environment inspire a person? I think it makes a difference. And I don't say that as an environmental studies student. You can ask my friends in the business school or in the journalism school, and they'll tell you - location matters.
EXCITING NEW OPPORTUNITIES:
1. Graduate School. I love learning. Enough said. This journey of education hasn't ended yet!
2. Entering the work force. It's scary out there, I know. But I've been a student for so long there is some beauty to be found in having a regular 9-5 schedule. There is beauty in knowing I'm earning an income and that Sunday will in fact be a day off, not a day to catch up on homework. I need you to remember I said that and remind me because I'm sure once I have it, I'll long for those sleep-in-until-noon-because-class-doesn't-start-until-one college days. Not that I ever had many of those.
June 14, 2010 - 9:00 PM
Congratulations! Today is your day. You're off to Great Places! You're off and away!
You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose. You're on your own. And you know what you know. And YOU are the guy who'll decide where to go. - Dr. Suess
224 credits, 2 majors, 2 minors, 5 years and I can finally say I DID IT! Today is the day I graduated from the University of Oregon.
As I close this chapter of my life to begin a new journey, I wish to take some time to reflect.
When I first came to the University of Oregon, I was asked what ‘mountains I would move.' The motto of the University: Mens agitat molem stands for: Minds Move Mountains. I didn't have an answer then...I'm not sure if I have an answer now.
But thinking back to graduation, I'm sure my mountains will rise before me, and I'm sure I am capable of rising to the occasion. The University of Oregon did that for me. I'd like to pursue justice in the environment. I'd like to pursue equality in education. I'd like to pursue community issues and generating positive development. When I came to the University of Oregon I wasn't sure I saw any mountains I wanted to move. And now, I see many mountains, and I desire to scale all of them.
Today was a wonderful celebration. I'm proud of my time as a Duck. In many ways, I'm sad to see it come to an end. As a Duck I've attended countless celebrations of the arts... and athletics, I've traveled to another continent for my studies and back again, I've learned skills I never thought I would learn, and found new interests I never knew I had, public speaking actually became fun, and I've been challenged to grow. It's safe to say, I'm going to miss this place.
Now though, the whole world is before me. This is my time to rise and shine. Eugene, I'll be back one day - and as I was asked to do at graduation today, I will have done my part to change the world. Because I leave the University of Oregon with a unique set of skills that makes me qualified and driven to make a difference. Because I leave the University of Oregon with a renewed sense of purpose. Because I leave the University of Oregon reminded that I want to be a giver, not a taker.
Kid, you'll move mountains! ...you're off to Great Places! Today is your day! Your mountain is waiting. So...get on your way! -Dr. Suess
June 4, 2010 - 12:00 PM
The following takes place between 12:00am and 1:00am:
Its time to revisit one of those things I said I wanted to get around to doing before I left Eugene. It sounds as noncommittal as these things often are; always a list of things I hope to do, hardly enough hours in the day to do ‘em.
But this time, I made my time count.
I had never been to an On the Rocks performance. I'd heard them perform at other events, like men's basketball games, but I'd never actually gone to see them perform. In one last concert to round out the year, they performed in the heart of campus at midnight, and the audience was packed.
Here they are opening with Stevie Wonder's "Signed, Sealed, Delivered..."
I didn't stay for that long, but long enough to hear a moving rendition of Coldplay's "Yellow." I was glad I went since this was one of those activities I'd been keeping in the back of my mind for so long. Now if I could make it to all the others I'd been dreaming of doing on day in Eugene, I'd be a real success.
For the moment I'm gearing up for finals and graduation. It seems unbelievable how close to the end I am now. I have one big final left in my urban geography class and that's it. Just a few loose ends at work to tie up and then it will officially be summer vacation, with two bachelor's degrees in hand.
You've been good to me Eugene. You really have. But before I go promise me one thing, don't let me go too quickly. I've still got a few things on my list I haven't gotten to yet:
Try Beppe and Gianni's Trattoria
Experience a college all-nighter in the Knight Library
Bike the whole riverbank trail system one last time
Visit the Owen Rose Garden in bloom again
See a show at the Oregon Bach Festival
Have a reunion with the Bean kinds and dine in Hamilton Hall
...the list goes on. Better start checking them off one day at a time.
June 2, 2010 - 11:00 PM
The following takes place between 11:00pm and 12:00am:
I can't sleep. My brain seems to be overflowing with amazing, but difficult ideas and I'm bursting with energy from thinking about them. For a few hours out of the day I thought I was going to take this crazy idea, become an entrepreneur and that would be my big break. But, then I remembered too many other things I also want to do, and an idea this good can't wait. So, I'm going to share my big ideas with you, in the hopes that you or someone you know will take my dreams and make them a reality.
Let's flashback to my flight home from Michigan on Monday:
I'm not one to usually read those "Sky" magazines, preferring instead my own carryon reading materials. However, due to a series of unfortunate events that kept me from watching a highly anticipated in-flight movie, I turned to instead this magazine waiting for me in the seatback pocket just below the tray table. Something on the cover caught my eye, an article or two about the upcoming World Cup, and I was willing to see what the magazine had to offer.
What I found inside surprised me. I spent a moment or two browsing through interesting World Cup facts, but fate led me to flip to another page before I retired the magazine back to its seat pocket - "A Spotlight On Pittsburgh." I have never been to Pittsburgh, I don't even know what made me want to read about it, but I'm glad I did. Somewhere tucked away next to some advertisements, was a small piece highlighting Pittsburgh's Promise to students:
All students who graduate from a public high school with a 2.5 GPA and a 90 percent attendance record, and goes on to attend a Pennsylvania college, will be offered a college scholarship worth up to $40,000.
I remember realizing in the moment how awesome of an investment practice this was. It gives students motivation and opportunity to work towards a college education, and it's a simultaneous investment in improving the public education system. Brilliant. Good for Pittsburgh. But then I'm assuming a flight attendant arrived with cookies and a drink and my thoughts on the matter ended there for the time being.
Once I was home in Oregon, I started thinking back to an article I recently read online, "Nearly One Third of High School Students Drop Out". Except this story wasn't in Pennsylvania, it was right here in Oregon. Some Portland public schools measured drop out rates as high as 50 percent. I put two and two together and my inspiration for the Portland Promise was born.
Somewhere on scratch paper and napkin corners I have drawn organization logos, come up with a list of necessary tasks, a list of potential donors - all Oregon based companies capable of giving back to their community, and most importantly, a hope for a better future within Oregon schools.
The Portland Promise can be made possible. And if you don't believe in its ability to succeed, consider what it did for the students of Pittsburgh - once scholarship recipients arrive at the college level, retention is higher, GPAs are higher, more students are taking a full coarse load, and within the Pittsburgh school district, the quality of a public education has significantly improved. Let's make a promise to our students in Portland. Let''s make a promise to our students in Oregon. Let's change the future.
Authors Note: This term I've decided to dissect my day one hour at a time to inform you about my college life. My own life set to the Fox Network's hit show "24." ...If only I were as sensational as Jack Bauer. In this ‘season' you can expect a thrilling and innovative drama complete with a few unforeseen plot twists.