The end of the undergraduate is nigh
In 223 days, including weekends, holidays and breaks, the class of 2019 will walk across the stage and receive their diplomas. The students I talked to are feeling different shades of optimistic.
“It’s been a really long time coming,” said Rachael Hanakowski, a sixth-year sociology student. “I’m ready to go.”
Graduation is an intense time for students. For many, it’s the end of a long journey of growth and development. “I’m not the same person I was in first year, second year, third year, or even fourth year,” said Kaelan Ruddick, a fifth year psychology student. “Mount Allison really is a place for growth.”
When finishing a degree, one must necessarily make plans for life after Mt. A. “I’m considering short master’s programs in the UK in specialized areas in psychology and international politics,” said Ruddick. “I’m also considering applying to CSIS … although I am fundamentally opposed to government institutions, so I don’t know if I’ll actually do that.… I don’t want to be bored.”
Contrasting Ruddick’s plethora of potential directions is Hanakowski’s decided plan to pursue a bachelor of social work at the University of Victoria. “It’s only September and I’m already thinking about applying. I just want to know now.”
Of course, as when anything starts to end, nostalgia for what still is takes hold. “I don’t think there’s anything quite like [Sackville] anywhere else,” said Hanakowski. Attending Mt. A really does place you in the town of Sackville; developing an affection for it and its traditions, such as the Fall Fair or Corn Boil, is unavoidable. “The people here are so nice,” said Hanakowski.
In my conversation with Ruddick, she described how she feels that a place like Sackville isn’t defined by its geography or amenities, but by the people you know while there. Since she doesn’t intend to end her current relationships when she graduates, her life won’t drastically change; it will simply morph into a new form. However, she did agree that a certain amount of nostalgia is unavoidable. “I don’t think I’ll be nostalgic for the place, but for my life as it was lived there,” she said.
For Hanakowski, the most daunting thing wasn’t necessarily the idea of leaving Mt. A and Sackville, but figuring out who she is outside of this place. “You stop doing classes and putting all your mental energy in that and then you’re just left like, ‘OK, I’m here now – who am I?’ ”
The problem of constructing an identity outside Sackville is compounded by how easy it is for someone to find their place here. It’s easy to put down roots in a small town. Hanakowski feels this makes Sackville unique: “I have a feeling that nowhere else is going to feel quite as much like home as Sackville.”
When asked if there’s anything she’d not miss about Sackville, Hanakowski quickly responded: “the wind.” Same, Rachael. Same.