Heather MuirAs the end of the school year becomes a reality, those of us like myself who are graduating from CMU in April have begun to reflect more and more on our time here. Now I know for myself that we often talk a lot about the great things that we experienced during our years at university: the community, the mentorship that develops between professors and students, the classes and classmates that made our days here so memorable. But as my time as a student at CMU draws to a close I have begun to ask a new question: what will I take away from my time here? How have these experiences shaped me into the person I am as a transition from the life of a student to one of a full-fledged grown-up in the “real world” of post-university adulthood? The answer has found its way to me under three ways: learning to live outside your box, thinking and living bigger, and coming into your own.

My years at CMU have not only offered me many unique opportunities, but also the confidence and sense of adventure to accept them. Whether it was accepting an offer to play in the worship band for a chapel service, applying for a student leadership position, or approaching organizations about an internship opportunity, the support and encouragement from both my friends here and faculty members gave me the extra push I needed to step out on a limb and accept these opportunities that seemed so far out of my comfort zone at the time. Now, with these experiences behind me I am confident enough in my abilities that I know I will be able to take this sense of adventure and trust into future situations.

CMU has taught me to think bigger, but also to live those thoughts out bigger and brighter. From finding what inspires you in the courses you’re taking to applying this new knowledge to the real world, CMU has shown me exactly how important, and how powerful, post-secondary education is. I’ve learned that critical thinking isn’t just for essays and textbooks – it’s for living in the world in a way that challenges you to think about the bigger picture, think about other people, and think about just how much you can do to make the world a better place even in the everyday aspects of your life.

Finally, CMU has shaped me into a person whom I am proud to be. Through my two years at CMU I have come into my own in a way I never expected I would. The welcoming community that I have experienced from my first day here has allowed me to explore what it really means to be yourself and to be confident in yourself, your ideas, and the way in which you strive to be in the world around you.

These lessons have prepared me for yet another transition that is approaching, as I leave the world of structured education and go on into the wide world where this education will be put into practice while being added to in many different ways. And so, I leave you with these humble words of wisdom for those of you who are about to enter this world of academia: find your niche, but take as many opportunities as you can – especially the ones that scare you; apply yourself and find what inspires you; and don’t leave what you’ve learned at the classroom door but apply it to your life – that’s where the real learning happens.

Heather Muir is one of CMU’s Student Ambassadors