“Yes, you chose St. Thomas University. But St. Thomas University also chose you.”

Listening to Dennis Cochrane address the crowd of first year students about to receive their T-Pin last Tuesday left me with mixed emotions—something I didn’t expect as I made my way across the courtyard feeling like a voyeur, snapping pictures with my Blackberry.

It’s been four years since I arrived at STU. Like Cochrane said, I didn’t make the decision alone.

In April 2007, I returned home from Spain to find that acceptance letters from University of Kings College and STU arrived in my absence. Considering Kings had been my dream for years, this should have been good news but I didn’t have a chance to celebrate.

“You got a really big scholarship from St. Thomas,” Grampy said. “I think you should consider it.”

STU chose me. And after a few days of debate, I turned down Kings, abandoned my Halifax dreams and chose STU.

The cliche thing to say at this point is “Four years later, I know I made the right choice.” But that’s not true. I didn’t make THE right choice—I made many right choices and they all came together to make my time at STU memorable.

Deciding to get involved with a campus activity was one of those choices that lead to more good things over the last four years. Nick Moore came to my first year journalism class in October, looking for people interested in writing for the campus paper. I was nervous at first, but I started going to story meetings and writing regularly. I chose to get involved, tentative at first, but now I feel confident in both my skills as a writer and my decision to go into journalism.

During our first free speech and the free press class, Julian Walker gave us some good advice. He told us to take advantage of our time here because we’ll never have this kind of freedom to do what we want to do and say what we need to say again.

Sure, we’ll still have choices to make later in life, but they’ll be about different things: mortgage rates, whether or not to have children and where to invest our money. University is a chance to figure out where you stand on issues and what you’re passionate about—but if you don’t get out of your room and involved in your community, you’re doing yourself a disservice.

Class of 2014, you’re going to have a lot of advice thrown your way over the next few weeks by people far more qualified than I am to dish it out. I’m going to give it to you anyway, though: find something you love and get involved. Take a chance. Choose in.

You’ll thank yourself four years later.

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