It didn’t really begin to hit me that I was a senior until I was rolling out of bed last week, suddenly realizing this is my last first day of class at JMU. As much as we all complain about waking up for those 8ams, half asleep and in desperate need of coffee, I can’t help but think of how much I’ll miss it after leaving JMU for the real world. Not too long ago, I was moving into my freshman dorm, being thrown into an entirely new group of people, playing those awkward introduction games, and attending my very first college class. In reality, that was three years ago, but it truly feels like yesterday. I laugh at myself now thinking back to my first day of classes. I most likely spent way too long thinking about my outfit choice and got lost numerous times while trying to find the ground floor of Harrison. And I did all of this while trying to play it cool to avoid coming across as the clueless freshman that I was. It’s crazy to think how far I’ve come.
Being a senior is obviously a strange feeling, knowing that it’s all coming to an end in less than a year; but at the same time it’s a nice feeling. After spending the last three years here, I consider JMU a place I know well and feel comfortable. I no longer have first-day-of-class jitters because I know I will run into friends I’ve made in previous classes and organizations. I no longer have that aching feeling of getting lost because I’m pretty sure I know the quad like the back of my hand. I feel experienced, knowledgeable and in control walking the campus of JMU — don’t worry new students, you’ll get there soon!
Although I felt reasonably at ease on my last first day, I was also overcome with the sad realization that the lasts will only continue from here on. My last football game, my last sorority recruitment, my last Harrisonburg snow day, my last cheesy Thursday at Ehall. But the more I think about all my lasts, the more I think that I am getting a little bit ahead of myself. I still have an entire year ahead of me! Now that it’s my last year at JMU, I have motivation to try things that I’ve never done here before and complete those senior bucket list tasks everyone talks about (find the underground quad tunnels, paint the spirit rock, jump in the fountain.. the list goes on). Leaving JMU will clearly be an emotional time (one that I am not completely ready for), but hey I’m not leaving yet! My last first week of classes made me appreciate my last three years at this wonderful place and has encouraged me to make the most of my final one. For any other seniors out there anxious about leaving, just remember — Once a Duke, Always a Duke.