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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

View From The Top: Herbie Rosen

Published: May 19, 2012
Section: Opinions

In late August 2008, I boarded a plane in Rochester, Minn., prepared to set off for Brandeis. As I waited for the plane to take off, I looked out to see my family staring back at me through the airport windows. While I had wanted to fly by myself to kick off this new four-year journey of college, I nevertheless found myself—for one moment—having second thoughts. Was I really ready to leave everything I knew behind? Could I really travel halfway across the country, without friends and family, for a place I had only visited once?

While I looked through those windows with longing and some heartache, I’ll never forget the feeling of exhilaration and adrenaline as the plane finally took off into the sky. College was about to begin, and I was about to jump head-first into a world of adventure, excitement and opportunity.

Four years later, I still feel like I am looking out those plane windows. Only this time, I am looking out at Brandeis with that feeling of heartache and longing. Just as I was forced to watch my family while taking off four years ago, I now must watch Brandeis while boarding that moving airplane called Commencement. No matter what, I need to leave.

The end of an undergraduate career is bittersweet. Don’t get me wrong—I am pumped to live in the real world, with a real job while earning a real income, but I still find much comfort in the environment of our school. At Brandeis I knew I mattered. I don’t mean “mattered” because I was in Student Union or because I jumped into all kinds of extracurriculars—I mean “mattered” in terms of personal relationships with the people I met.

Our school constantly fosters collaboration, communication, challenge and acceptance. The majority of our student body functions around these pillars of the Brandeis experience, and the end result is the Brandeis which we know and love. I was struck by the genuine interest people have in one another. There is this mutual understanding on our campus, that everyone has some kind of story to bring to the table. And our university is one that thrives upon the words, thoughts and imaginations of its students.

Yes, this is how the world should ideally work as well, but will I feel that kind of “enlightened mentality” in New York City, where I am going next year? Will I feel it in my apartment complex? I like to smile at people when I walk, but will the people I walk by even care to look?

OK, so that’s the “bitter” part of leaving. In addition to leaving friends, professors and staff members who have enriched my life with their presence. But here is the “sweet” part: Brandeis doesn’t want to leave your life. While some seniors might feel bombarded with the term “future alumni,” the truth is, many of us will want to rely on the reminders of Brandeis that the Department of Alumni & Development sends to us. We shall be comforted by the knowledge that we join an even bigger family of alumni—a group that is evolving to be an incredible source of support for one another. Some students think the university will only try to “hit us up” for money, but I think otherwise. I think these efforts from the Alumni Association can be interpreted as a way of keeping a bit of Brandeis with us. The invitation to return, to contribute or to participate in Brandeis culture will always be there. And I hope we accept it often.

Of course there is the obvious “sweet”: Everything you’ve done on campus, everyone you’ve met, everything you’ve learned—all of it will be with you forever. All of it has helped transform you into a capable, efficient and well-rounded contributor to the “real world.” And just because you leave doesn’t mean that goes away. Those friendships, connections and accomplishments never leave. But you know that. And there really are no words to describe that comfort.

So seniors, if you’re feeling some jitters like I am, try your best to sit back and relax. Because even though your plane is taking off, you’ll have a chance to come back. Yes, Brandeis won’t be the same. Yes, things will change. But your plane can take any twist or turn, all you have to do is look onward with excitement and determination. Those jitters fade, the plane flight gets smooth and then you can land into a whole new world with the knowledge that you have a Brandeis experience behind you. Board that plane, buckle up and lean back. It’s Go Time!