University Park, IL,
22:54 PM

Thoughts on moving from student to alumni

Letter to the Class of 2023


It feels like just yesterday we were writing our New Year’s resolutions. All the things we were going to leave behind in 2022, only taking the best version of ourselves into 2023. Maybe you have held to those resolutions and maybe you’re more like me and you’re about 50% resolved. While the turning of a calendar year marks an easy reason for new habits and patterns, I wonder if we might also consider this moment – this commencement celebration – as a similar opportunity. As you make this change from student to alumni, I hope you’ll consider leaving behind some habits and maybe picking up a few new ones.  

For starters, can I remind you to pick up good books for fun? You likely have been reading some wonderfully rich material. But if I’m honest, I hope you’ll pick up a good fiction book. Renew your library card or join a Book Club. Reading is a skill that has allowed you to navigate your student life, but it’s also an incredible skill no matter where life takes you. Shelve the textbooks for a season and dive into something different. 

Leave behind, at least for a month or so, the habit of constantly doing something. The hustle of student life has likely been one where your “free” moments were used for things like laundry or work or paying bills. In this next season, I encourage you to sit on the back porch for a few minutes – or even an hour – without an agenda. Go for a bike ride with no destination in mind. Sleep a little later. Sit at a coffee shop without your laptop and APA 7th edition manual. 

Think about the big and small things you may have had to put on pause these last few years. It will be important to inventory the things that should likely start to take up space again in your new Alumni status life.

Take with you, though, the skills of grit and determination. You have demonstrated amazing resolve. Getting to this moment shows you have what it takes to accomplish your goals. What a valuable reminder as you encounter the next challenge – and those challenges will certainly find their way to your path. 

And I would be remiss if I didn’t ask you to hold tightly to the specific knowledge and skills you developed in the classroom. Go get jobs and be great employees. Start new businesses. Discover. Innovate. Strategize. Lead. The privilege of education should not be diminished. If ever you have the chance, pay it forward. Help someone else go from student to alumni. Your story holds potential and inspiration. Share it whenever you can – with, of course, a shout out to your GSU family. 

Jaguars – We are proud of you. We are proud to fold you into the 57,000 strong alumni. We can’t wait to see what you’ll do in this next chapter, but first – take a nap.