Thank you to the anonymous graduate who penned this open letter.
And thank you to SEheartshare for sharing it on Imgur.
To the 75-year-old woman in my graduating class,
When you first walked into my lecture, I was incredibly skeptical. What was an elderly woman doing here?
No, you didnt work on a laptop like the rest of us. No, you didnt come to the campus pub with us after class. No, I didnt get to speak to you very much. To you, I say... thank you.
This past week, as I walked across stage to receive my diploma, I looked out into the sea of graduates. Seeing your face, with your sun hat on, your tiny, squinting eyes, and faint smile, made me feel prouder than I ever have.
Im sure it was difficult to come to lecture every week. To sit among my class, half of whom were zoned out, on their phones, barely awake. Im sure that, at least a few times, I was one of those people.
You were the oldest in our class by over 50 years, but that didnt seem to phase you. None of it did. Thats because you werent there for anyone else. You were there for yourself. You were there because you loved what you were learning. You were there for the reason that I should have been, but didnt realize.
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From the moment I started university, I became further and further knit into an instant success culture, that left me feeling drained, underachieving and hopeless. Classes werent about learning, they were about working strategically to get high grades. When I asked questions, it was for participation marks, not because I actually cared.
I became obsessed with the idea of now. I looked at all the people in the world who were achieving amazing things at 15, 16, 17 years old. I beat up on myself constantly for not being in their shoes. I lost sight of my goals -- chasing a dream with a foundation made of dust.
But when I had my first class with you, everything changed. The day you walked into that classroom with your walker, cracked open your notebook, and listened intently in the lecture, I began to see the world in a different way.
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So many people had given me this advice before. I should have listened. I even worked as a don (residence adviser) in my college residence, and told that to the students I worked with constantly. I should have known this. Heck, I did know it. What I didnt do, was understand it.
Its like when you can spout out a math equation, but you dont understand the mechanics behind it. Until it hits you, and suddenly it all clicks into place. Living in a culture where even a 60 second Youtube video can seem too long, its difficult not to get lost in this mentality.
Just seeing you was like someone taking me by the shoulders and saying, Wake up! If youre not doing this for yourself, then why are you even here?! It made me take a long, hard look at the past three years of my undergrad and re-think my approach to school - to life - altogether.
This week, I graduated with my head held high. I know why Im doing what Im doing, and Im not in a rush to get it done. Getting my diploma was just one step in what I hope will be a lifelong journey of learning.
Thank you, from the bottom of my heart.
With the utmost respect,
A fellow graduate.