Dear class of 2020, get ready for a whole new experience


Michelle Nguyen

Vidhima Shetty was editor in chief for The Californian and graduated in 2019. She attends Columbia University.

Vidhima Shetty, Editor in Chief

To the Class of 2020 Grizzlies: a big congratulations for graduating. You’ve been through a grueling four years that tested everything you know about yourself and the world around you.

I understand and completely empathize with you for the situation we currently find ourselves in. Obviously, it is not ideal, but remember that a graduation is a milestone in your life. Don’t let this year’s unorthodox style of graduation make it any less of a celebration and day to remember. 

If anything, you’re certain to remember this point in your life. Who can say they had the Obamas speak at their high school graduation?

Whatever the case, you should be extremely proud of yourself and all the accomplishments you’ve had. High school is, to say the least, challenging, but you’ve survived it. You’ve learned so much, while at the same time watching yourself change in the process of growth. Chances are, you’re probably not the same as you were four years ago.

In fact, you might not even recognize that person who started at Cal High in the fall of 2016, and that’s ok. Even if you look back at yourself with incredulity, marvel at the way you’ve come so far and everything you’ve had to undergo and overcome just to be where you are today.

Think about all the people you’ve met, all the discoveries you’ve made, all the moments you’ll forever cherish, all the friends that you made, and you’ll find that everything seems surreal and incredibly fast-floating. I know I did

But let me be the one to remind you to be excited for what’s to come. Wherever you’ve decided to go, or whatever you’ve decided to do, congratulate yourself first. This is a big step. 

But don’t let the enormity of what’s to come frighten you. Instead, make sure that you embrace it all. Be thrilled for all the open doors that you will come across and that are most certainly waiting for you. Take this moment to choose the best version of who you want to be.

You should also remember to be open minded and to try new things. College is huge and new (both fantastically scary things to be, I get it). Most likely, you’ll have to make new friends, adjust to new routines, and find yourself in situations you’ve never been in before. 

But don’t let this deter you. Just remember to be yourself during these times. Don’t let past experiences define what you can and can’t do. Instead, listen to yourself and what you want because ultimately this is your journey and no one can take that away from you. 

The world is now yours for taking. If you don’t take risks or try something new and challenging in college, then when will you? (Disclaimer: also know your limits and when to say no to things.That’s totally OK.)

Also make sure you remember what’s important to you. Like I mentioned, it’s great to participate in new activities and experiment to find out who you really are, but also prioritize. Seriously, you need to attend classes. Once you go down the road of not attending classes and choosing to sleep in, it gets very hard – dare I say, impossible – to convince yourself to start going back (And no, Mom, I promise I’m not speaking from personal experience). 

Work hard, play hard is the mantra I stand by, as cliché as it is, because it’s true. You reap what you sow and if you work hard then you will have the time, luxury, and happiness to enjoy the things around you. 

During this time, it’s also easy to get homesick. My personal remedy for this? Guard your memory of Cal High and your years growing up. These memories are yours, and remind you of who you are and where you come from. I find that when meeting so many people, and being thrown into so many new situations and routines, revisiting my good memories help me create my own happiness. 

Calling my friends from high school and connecting with them, and hearing their experiences and sharing my own, made me feel more at home and surrounded by something familiar to me. At the end of the day, that’s what matters: happiness over everything.

And please, for the sake of your family, call you parents. You’ll find that they miss you more than you miss them (not because you forgot them, but simply because there’s so much going on around you that you have more than enough to process.) So remember to reach out and keep them updated on your experiences. They love it when you’re happy and thriving in your new environment. 

Finally, and this goes without saying but I’ll write it anyway in case you forget: have fun. This is your time. This is all you. Be happy, stay safe, pave your own path, and be yourself. College is the time of your life, believe me. Reward yourself, because truly, you deserve this.

Congratulations again Grizzlies, and I wish you the best of success in your future endeavors!