By Margaret Ellen Crawford

My four years of college are finally coming to a close. It is hard to believe that it’s been so long since I first stepped on campus as a bright eyed and eager high school senior. I visited SMU in April and I immediately realized that SMU was an incredible school. Its beautiful campus, its size, and its location in Dallas made SMU stand out from all of my other prospects. I loved that I could study more than one subject here. I loved that SMU students were incredibly involved on campus. And most of all I loved that when I walked around campus students looked happy – like they truly enjoyed going to school here. These were the factors that lead me to make my decision to come to SMU. What I didn’t know at that time was just how big of an impact SMU would have on me.

Graduation-May2013Quad(picured: Last year’s May 2013 SMU graduation ceremony on Dallas Hall lawn)

As I write this I am a mere three weeks away from graduating. In my time at SMU I have changed my major more times than I can count. I have joined clubs and quit clubs. I have had the “what am I going to do with my life” crisis. I have excelled and I have struggled. Your four years of college are a time to discover your passions, develop life long friendships, and build the foundation for your future career. College challenges you in everything you do; teaches you about your strengths and weaknesses; and ultimately shapes who you are. I look back on who I was when I first walked down the boulevard and am so thankful that I chose to be moulded by SMU.

My mom always told me growing up that you are the company you keep. To a certain extent I agreed, but I also thought that a person decides who and what they become. In my time at SMU I have realized that we both were right. When you are surrounded by excellence it challenges you to also be excellent, but ultimately the decision to be excellent is yours. What I have found at SMU is a community defined by excellence, full of students that excel but also that encourage their peers to excel with them. Not a community of competition, but of shared accomplishment. I have done and achieved more in my four years at SMU than I ever imagined I would when I first stepped on campus. I attribute that success to the encouragement and support not only of my professors and mentors, but also my peers. More times than not it was my friends that convinced me I could achieve something when I was skeptical of my own ability.

You always hear people say “College is the best four years of your life!” A part of me can’t help but agree with this. I have had MORE than my fair share of fun during my time at SMU going to themed parties, boulevards, sporting events, and formals. I have stormed the field after our football team beat TCU and the court when our basketball team made it to the NIT championship. I have studied abroad in Italy and traveled all over the country visiting friends. While this is only the tip of the iceberg of the fun I have had in college, a part of me hesitates when I hear that college is the best time of your life. I truly believe that because of my decision to come to SMU I have set myself up to have many more years of incredible memories. SMU has given me friends and mentors that will support me. SMU has given me an education that has prepared me for the real world. SMU has given me outstanding resources that greatly contributed to me getting a job. And finally, SMU has given me the tools to be successful no matter what path I take going forward.

Graduation is a bittersweet time for all seniors. In the past few months there have been many “lasts” and there are even more to come in the next couple of weeks. There will be ceremonies and hard goodbyes, but there definitely won’t be any regrets. I can honestly say that coming to SMU was one of the best decisions of my life, and I hope that you too can say when you graduate that the best is yet to come.