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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Follow your passions to greatness

Published: April 27, 2007
Section: Opinions

Last semester of college. Last Liquid Latex. Last April break. Last all-nighter in Shapiro. Last Taco Night. Last Culture X. Last final exam. Last dinner at Usdan. Do you want to punch me yet? These days, it seems like everything is my last something. It occurred to me today that this is the last issue of The Hoot. My last chance to say something to the Brandeis community. So, it has to be good, right?

As a senior, I am caught somewhere in between wanting to spout sage advice to underclassmen and wanting to hide under the covers and suck my thumb. After all, the real world is scary. I hear it doesnt have WhoCash. But being a senior does make you somewhat of an authority on life at Brandeis. And as an authority, I have some practical advice for the underclassman.

Never put personal information on the internet. Never use your full name online. Be careful of what you say on the myBrandeis forums. At the very least, friends-lock your Livejournal and use the privacy settings on Facebook. Dont write about drugs, alcohol, or sex on the internet. Must I even discuss naked photos? Just dont do it.

Do bring food into the library. No one has ever stopped me from bringing food in, even when I was carrying a bowl of hot soup and freshly-popped popcorn. You could walk in carrying a six-foot party sub without so much as a raised eyebrow. Hell, last semester during finals my friends were passing out beers in the Green Room.

Dont take the elevator in the Shapiro Campus Center. Seriously. Heres a classic example of ingenuity at work: Brandeis builds a brand new, state of the art building, and installs an elevator from 1972. That thing is slower than my grandmother! I could walk up to Rabb and back before those doors would open. Okay, Ill admit it. I take the elevator. Yes, Im that lazy.

Always ask for extensions. In my four years at Brandeis, a professor has never denied me an extension when I asked nicely. College is stressful, and we dont always have the time to put our best efforts into every single assignment. Sometimes we get so bogged down that in order to even finish an assignment, we need a little extra time. Professors at Brandeis understand this. If theres one thing I have learned it is that it never hurts to ask. After all, our professors dont want to waste their time reading mediocre work. They want you to succeed as much as you do.

But perhaps the most important lesson I have learned in my four years at Brandeis is this: dont be afraid to do what you love. When I got to college I told my parents that I was going to do improv comedy. They told me it was a waste of time. As a sophomore I told them that I was going to be an American Studies major. They decided to start furnishing the basement. Junior year I told them I was going to be a sex counselor with SSIS. They both looked uncomfortable and then my dad asked, Couldnt you save the whales instead?

Freshman year, I tried out for everything and was rejected by everyone. But when my friends and I started our own improv troupe, Bad Grammer, I learned that rejection could lead to greatness. From inexperienced beginnings, we became an established (and dare I say popular?) group on campus. We also became a family.

American Studies always looked really interesting to me, but I thought that I should be taking more serious classes. When I did finally take an American Studies class, it blew me away. I had found my passion, and all of a sudden Brandeis seemed like a different world. I started getting to know my professors. I got to know the other students in my major, and suddenly school began to feel like a community. My life had begun to take a direction, even if that direction was unclear.

I really like to talk about sex, so applied to SSIS on a whim. I ended up an expert on flavored lube and dental dams. I never thought I would be writing columns on oral sex and bondage, or that my columns would be featured on porn sites. (Hi mom!) But my work with SSIS ended up being extremely important to me, and actually influenced the course of my studies.

So far, one unexpected development has led to the next, and ultimately shaped my life. As I get ready to leave Brandeis, I trust that these unexpected developments will keep coming and eventually I will get closer and closer to my dream career, one that I never predicted for myself. While it may be frightening, and there may be intermittent periods of living in my parents basement, I am confident that the steps I have taken will eventually get me where I want to be. Why? Because I have followed my passions, and passion is all you need to succeed.

Choose a major you love, no matter what your parents say. Waste your time with extracurriculars that will not matter once you leave Brandeis. Dont be afraid to follow your interests, even if your interests are unorthodox.

Seniors: take a minute to think about where your interests have already taken you. Think about how much you have already accomplished here at Brandeis. You have written countless papers and taken countless exams. You have organized projects and programs for your clubs and organizations. You learned how to do well in a class without ever doing the reading. You figured out how to park illegally on campus without getting a ticket. You finally convinced the nurse at the Health Center that no, you dont need a pregnancy test. You learned how to juggle a full course load, at least two extracurriculars, your internship, and your social life. Not too shabby, is it?
You are no longer the kid your parents dropped off in the fall of 2003. Can you even imagine what you will have accomplished in another twenty years? Until then, may your ambitions be large, and your parents basements carpeted. Good luck everyone!