The feeling of a cold fall breeze has always had a special place in my heart. I remember when I turned 15, I was coming home from school and it was very dark out (gosh, those high school days were long). It was colder than it had been, and I was wearing a very thin sweater. Soft leaves under my feet, a strong wind swirled around me and lifted up every hair on my body. An almost magical feeling, I felt that breeze in a way that I had felt no other. Whatever it was about the way it touched my skin or my emotional reaction to being cold in a much too thin sweater that I had put on that morning, I felt that breeze as an adult. I was imbued with a kind of certainty and clarity.
Well, that clarity did not last very long. Between then and now, I have had some tough moments, like all of us have, where the notions of certainty and clarity were so foreign I couldn’t even wrap my mind around the concept.
But season by season, certainty has increased in my habit of mind. In the springtime of my freshman year, I walked out of my dorm to head into my 20th-century Ireland final exam. I don’t remember exactly what it was—maybe a tent being set up for senior week or seniors out for photographs—but whatever it was, the presence of those graduating seniors was very strong on Slavin lawn that day. I could not help but notice their pride and elation. They were feeling on top of the world, as they should have been. When they saw me, I like to imagine that they were grateful not to be me, a freshman heading into a 20th-century Ireland final.
The feeling of certainty returned. Even at a moment when I was agonizing about what year Sinn Fein came to power, I was totally certain that I would be a graduating senior in no time at all.
Last week was Senior Ring Weekend. Dancing, music, drinking, and dresses were, I am not afraid to admit, the center of my thinking over the two-day party. We are drawing closer to our graduation date. During all the festivities, I was struck by another wave of certainty. Looking at all of our beautiful smiling faces, I was so enormously proud of our class. The senior class is a group of hard workers. We are smart, courageous, artistic, charitable, and fun-loving.
We can get down on ourselves and each other from time to time and we don’t behave perfectly to one another. But, we are a group of very good people and Providence College has been made better by the class of 2024. I am absolutely certain of this.