The Hardest Goodbye

Four years ago, I was asked by Illinois Undergraduate Admissions to join a student blogging team. This blog, they said, would reach college seniors in their search for their collegiate home. Writing has always been important to me—the way words on a page can make us feel so deeply connected to one another. So now, more than 100 blog posts later, it is time for me to say goodbye.

Photo from Rachel Hernandez

I can’t thank you all enough.

Your support and encouragement have inspired me, week in and week out, to challenge my writing more than I ever thought possible. I have enjoyed brainstorming, writing, and sharing with you. The goodbyes to my friends, mentors, and Champaign family were always assumed to be tough. What I never expected was the sinking feeling in my chest that would come with saying goodbye to the admissions blog community.

Though this is the end of my undergraduate road, and for many of you the end of your high school experience, greatness lies ahead for each of us. Don’t take a single second of the next four years for granted. In the blink of an eye, you will be applying for jobs and planning for the future. The University of Illinois, and specifically the College of Education, did everything right for me. I emerged into the working world experienced, prepared, and knowledgeable. I am proud to announce that I have accepted my dream job teaching 6th grade social studies. As you begin making your plans, never forget the lessons high school taught you, never lose sight of who you are, and never give up. If something feels right, trust your instinct. If something feels wrong, trust your gut.

My last piece of advice is this: Everything happens for a reason.

When I was in high school, my mom used to tell me everything happens for a reason. Like any 17-year-old would, I rolled my eyes. But she was, and still is, right. When things seem to be falling apart, and believe me, they will, life has a funny way of piecing it all back together.

In my four years at the University of Illinois, I experienced things I never imagined I would: changing college majors, meeting my best friend and watching her marry the love of her life, teaching on a Navajo reservation, road-tripping with my co-workers-turned-family, and losing my professor to cancer. My highest highs and lowest lows are thanks to the CU community.

Photo from Rachel Hernandez

I wish you nothing but the best moving forward. I hope you fall in love with Champaign-Urbana the way I did, and that you find yourself and build a network of people who support your goals. You will make mistakes; learn from them, and come out the best version of yourself.

Rachel

Rachel

Class of 2020
I am studying Middle Grades Education with concentrations in Social Sciences and Literacy in the College of Education. Although I now reside in Champaign, I am originally from Vernon Hills, a Northwest suburb of Chicago.

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