and now I would like to welcome James Conway.
What’s next. what’s next for you?
What’s your next degree, your next internship, your next job, your next challenge, your next
step? Family more likely than not will pose this
question to you sometime soon, and you will certainly ask it to yourself.
What’s next? At the end of an era when we reach a milestone,
we tend to reflect on our accomplishments and the path we took to get there.
We also look forward to the future. One of our biggest fears is the unknown.
The future is exactly that. The unknown. Eight years ago, I found myself wondering
what was next. I was graduating high school in the bottom
of my class. I had squandered my academics and found myself
graduating by the skin of my teeth with a 1.9 GPA. I didn’t know what was next for me.
But I sure as hell knew it wasn’t college. No school would accept me.
I was scared. I had no idea what to do. Thankfully, I received some help from myself
of all people. During our graduation week in high school we got back time capsules that
we had received in the fourth grade. I never recalled making one.
In the time capsule was a questionnaire with the question- “what will you be when you are
older?” Mine said “Army soldier”.
That thought hadn’t even crossed my mind. If you were to ask anyone who knew me if I
would ever join the military they would have told you, ‘no way’. Well, four years of service
and one deployment to Afghanistan later I’m leaving the Army. I had served my county honorably,
but had decided it was time to move on. The only thing was I wasn’t sure what I was moving on to. I found myself once again wondering what was
next. Going back to school was terrifying to me.
I had done so poorly in high school I couldn’t imagine doing any better in college.
With the help of some friends, they pushed me toward Endicott. They were already students
there and they told me that Endicott had a campus in Boston and the classes were mostly
made up of veterans. I thought I’d give it a try- two or three classes here and there,
to see if I liked it. I felt welcomed there, like I wouldn’t be
judged for my mistakes. I was four years removed from school, after all, and mistakes were
almost guaranteed. As time went on, I found myself actually enjoying college, something
I never thought would happen. It was through this enjoyment I excelled.
I made education my top priority. Graduating with a degree was my mountain to climb.
And I wouldn’t have climbed it without some of the staff here at Endicott College. David
Giarusso, my advisor, and Dr.Laura Douglas, the Assistant Dean of Freshmen Studies at
Van Loan have been there with me since the start. Without their help and guidance I wouldn’t
be standing up here today let alone graduating. What I want you to take away from all of this
is that you have no idea what the future holds, and that shouldn’t be seen as a bad thing.
The future is crowded and convoluted. This scares us, makes us anxious and forces us
to question our path in life. But I’m telling you, as someone who has been standing at several
major crossroads in their lifetime, this is something you should embrace.
The unknown is a beautiful thing. You should accept this challenge and all the
ones to come in life. Never shy away from an uncertain future. You don’t know what’s
right around the corner or even eight years from now. So tomorrow, when you receive your
degree and head off into the world, don’t be afraid. Be excited that you are utterly
clueless as to what is about to happen next in life, because the future is in your hands.