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Beyond the classroom

Jared Jedick | Friday, May 14, 2010

Leaving Notre Dame is a mixed bag for a senior getting ready to go out and face the world, but the healthiest way to look at it would be to focus in on the good things that are in our futures. It hardly does any good to look back with sadness and nostalgia, so one must consider the past with an eye on how we have become prepared for everything that is to come, right?
We should be proud of our accomplishments, whether it be maintaining a high GPA or landing the big job that we had always dreamed of getting coming out of college, and many of us truly are and deserve to be.
That being said, who cares?
As I sit here I listen to my roommates going through the list of Latin honors for this year’s class, comparing their grades and looking at who received magna and summa cum laudes and I wonder if that is the healthiest way to evaluate what we really got out of our time here. Another friend of mine told me about how she had calculated the exact grade she needed to get on a final exam to end with the GPA she wanted, and how she felt like she was a failure when she did not reach that expectation.
I am very proud of my accomplishments as a student here as well, as I believe I put in some of the hardest work of my life trying to be the best student I could be, but that is not what I will be taking away from this great college experiment that we shared with one another.
What matters in the end is none of these things, but the relationships we built along the way and the way we changed as human beings.
I remember coming into Notre Dame as quite the conceited person, believing that I knew everything and that college was just a necessary stepping stone to taking one’s rightful place in the world. Little did I know the humbling process that would take place, introducing me to the wealth of knowledge that is out there and my truly small place in comparison to the richness of experience that everyone else brings to the table. I was not prepared for this change and was truly rocked by it, but it occurred and I would not have it any other way.
Who knew that so many different kinds of people were out there and the wealth of different ways to look at how we are able to exist together and form the substantial organizing principles of civilization? Making a trip to Rome for a semester of studying abroad opened me up to so many different ways of doing things, inspiring a love of good cooking, good friend and good wine.
I would like to think that some of my best memories will come from the classrooms and things that I learned there, but as I look back and evaluate, I realize that I have no interest in those things. What I am going to care about and remember are the times I spent with friends, the PLS lunches that we had in between classes, and the times that I had the opportunity to make a fool of myself in front of everybody.
I learned my most important life lessons not from reading Plato or Kant or whatever author or theory of life you chose to subscribe to or study, but instead from my interactions with all those people and classmates around me.
The point of college was not to prepare us for a certain career or to allow us a perfect forum for comparing ourselves to one another, but instead to find our identity in life and to find our niche within the society around us.
When I meet people in the years to come, I am not going to evaluate them by taking their college GPA or current salary and comparing it against other people’s to determine who was successful at life and who was not. What I am going to try and determine is how many people that individual cared for and how many people cared about him. That is the true measure of a man, how a person makes someone else’s life better, and a jerk is a jerk no matter what titles and honors you dress him up with.
So do not lose heart fellow sailors on the voyage of life, if you have lived your life to the fullest so far, then you can only expect things to continue going well. I am looking forward to what is to come, not because I now carry a college degree, but because I have changed into the kind of man I want to be for the rest of my life.
God save us all.

Jared Jedick is graduating as a Program of Liberal Studies and
psychology double major. He would like to thank everyone who he has ever worked with at The Observer, as well as those who ever read his
stories. Age quod agis. He can be
contacted at jjedick@nd.edu
The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not
necessarily those of The Observer.