BY ASHLEY SWORD, Staff Columnist

Growing up is inevitable. Although, it is a privilege denied to many. Over the last few days I have been thinking about time. How slow it seems to go by when you are a child, and when you told others who asked your age that you were five and three quarters – because you wanted time to go faster. As you grow, it does. Time feels like its running like sand through your fingers. I recently heard a quote on “The Wonder Years.” The narrator finished the episode by saying,

“Growing up is never easy. You hold onto things that were. You wonder what’s to come. But that night, I think we knew it was time to let go of what had been, and look ahead to what would be. Other days. New days. Days to come.”

This had me thinking about the changes ahead for myself and hundreds of other seniors at the University of Michigan – Dearborn who are closing the door on childhood as we enter our final months before graduation.

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Hundreds of students will walk out of the fieldhouse like they had many times before this winter but this time in their caps and gowns. Many of these students have put their all into UM-Dearborn by joining organizations, athletics, or focusing on grades. Weaved throughout my life are places where people have taught, listened, and helped guide me to where I am today. One of these includes the University of Michigan – Dearborn, where I have found a place of belonging over the years. As a senior, days of classrooms, homework, and lectures are ending. This is where a new life starts.

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The other day I was in the University Center where freshmen were coming in for orientation. It made me realize that their journey has just begun while mine is ending. But every new beginning comes from another beginning’s end. My adventure in college is going to be complete, and it’s time for the next step in life. This leaves me trying to tug a rope at both ends. One end is still trying to hold onto what I’ve had, while the other is excited for what’s ahead. As I walk out of the CASL doors for the last time this winter, I will know that I put my heart into my time at UM-Dearborn. It is the place where I spent countless hours in Mardigian Library, laughing with friends in the University Center, and on some days spent more time there than at home.

As a student at UM-Dearborn, I would have liked to think I somehow made an impact on those around me. But with thousands of students attending the University each year, many others are fighting to do the same. I may leave here without a library named after me, a plaque on the wall with my name on it, or my face displayed on the main University web page, but I do know that I did the best I could with the time I had.

Advice for freshmen

If there’s one thing I’d like to leave behind is to share with the freshmen what took me until junior year to learn: Get involved.

Do all that you can with the opportunities offered by the university. Many of the best times I’ve had throughout the years have been because I joined organizations on campus. If you are unsure of what direction you want to take, give something a chance. Other students feel the same way you do. Getting involved is more than meeting others or making new friends. You learn from them and grow in ways you couldn’t without it. I met many students who were involved in numerous activities while still maintaining honors in academics. I admired their hard work and strive to be like them. I promise you won’t be dissatisfied when becoming involved. The outcome is tremendous and you will be able to one day look back with the feelings I have.

Soon enough, I will be packing up my life into cardboard boxes and carry them on into a new beginning. A new place exists where new memories will be made. Time passes and we must take every opportunity that comes our way. As the time approaches, I will close one door to open another. Rolling the dice of life to see what hand I will be dealt. Despite which road I take, I will look back on my experiences at UM-Dearborn with feelings of happiness because I have put my best into what I have done. All of these experiences up until this moment have molded me to ready myself for the world ahead. Sometimes I will fall but I have learned that getting back on my feet is better than letting the world keep me down. I will leave the university as an ambitious college graduate – with high hopes and dreams ready to take on what the world has to offer. The most exciting part is that we have the ability to travel any road we want. These roads will twist and tangle but at the end of the day they all lead us back to the place we started. Welcome to the beginning of the rest of your life, Class of 2012. Do the best you can and never settle for less than you’re worth.