Auburn University is a special place. Anyone who knows Auburn loves Auburn, so it only makes sense why I get funny looks when they hear I will graduate early.
No one has been as excited to come to Auburn as I was. As a freshman in high school, I visited my older brother at Auburn for a football game. It was love at first sight.
I dreamed of being a student here for the rest of high school, and Auburn was the only college I applied to senior year. When I came and moved into my freshman dorm, it felt surreal. To this day I walk around campus and think, "I can't believe I go here."
My time here has far exceeded my expectations. The past three years are full of memories, personal growth and people who have touched my life forever. These have truly been the best years of my life.
But somehow, I'm ready to leave Auburn. I graduate in May, a whole calendar year early, but I feel prepared to move on.
That's the beauty of Auburn. While it is a family and feels like home, it's not necessarily where everyone should stay after they graduate. It's a training ground to teach us not only how to succeed in our future careers, but how to live as Auburn men and women out in the world.
When I first heard the Auburn Creed, I thought it was compelling and a nice gesture on the university's part. As a student, I realized just how closely George Petrie's words from 1943 are followed by the school today.
Auburn is a place where smiling, greeting and helping strangers is perfectly natural. Taking hours out of the week to serve the community is typical. I am reminded every day in Auburn that kindness is free and ours give to the world.
The university challenges us to strive for greatness and reach our full potential. The faculty and staff believe in you and make every effort to open doors for you. It's a place where greatness can look different for every person, whether it means getting a perfect score on an exam, winning a campus election or nailing the last note in a song.
Auburn is a place where you learn to embrace who you are. In comparison to my freshman self, I am so much more comfortable in my own skin. I haven't changed myself to fit the status quo; I have learned to appreciate my imperfections and work on myself for God's glory.
On my lowest and highest days, I've seen what a blessing a group of supportive people can be. I've seen how lovely friendships can be when you lift each other up and want the best for the other person most of all.
Auburn has taught me the value of making time to take care of my mind, body and soul. I have learned how important balancing time on my own and time pouring into other people is.
Experiences I've had at Auburn have taught me to have the courage to explore. Auburn teaches us to be life-long learners. We take steps, or even leaps, outside our comfort zones and try new things.
Because Auburn has taught me these things, I feel prepared to graduate. Furthermore, I feel it is our duty as Auburn men and women to share what we have learned with the world. I owe so much to Auburn University and hope that I leave this campus a better place because I am certainly leaving as a better person.