One Last Column: Student Life Senior William Labrador

| Staff Writer

It’s sort of interesting to be saying goodbye to WashU. Unlike many of my fellow seniors writing goodbye letters, I will be returning in three months to continue a Ph.D program, which will take another six years of my life, meaning that the freshmen that I have gotten to know will be “heading out into the world” before me. Nonetheless, there are still some things that I will be leaving behind as I begin grad school.

I can’t remember ever being good at goodbyes. The last time I had to say goodbye like this was middle school. I’m a big proponent of the Irish Goodbye, possibly in part because I know (or maybe have convinced myself) that I will see my friends again. Our high school goodbyes were accelerated by COVID-19. I didn’t know that calling in sick to a track meet meant that I would never compete again. My classmates and I celebrated that the rumors about a kid having COVID-19 meant that we wouldn’t be taking that big physics test, not knowing that we wouldn’t have a graduation or a prom or any sort of fulfilling goodbye.

So by the time I got to WashU, the excitement was for a whole bunch of “hellos.” Saying hello to my new roommates, I remember running through the entire building not being able to stop until my room was fully set up. I remembered largely choosing WashU because of the people, and so I was excited to say hello, and meet, and contribute to the energy myself. Making friends who wouldn’t let the pandemic stop us from being friends was a life-giving experience. I still fondly remember and sometimes want to return to the freshman Resistance games we played and the night where we played a real-life game of Among Us, running throughout the entire Eliot B building trying to complete tasks. I remember the late nights hanging out on the Rutledge balcony.

I will remember how every Thursday night for the past four years has had something special to do. I remember taking trips to Chabad, despite being a Catholic myself, to eat with my group of friends (we call ourselves “Chillin”) and then taking the long trip back to talk and hang out in Justin and Cam’s suite while discussing whatever one of the various topics that one of us could come up with. I remember all the late nights spent wandering the East End, sitting on the balcony to Brookings, and I will cherish the parties and poker games and road trips with friends, and the retreats.

I recently heard someone describe what the perfect farewell is supposed to be. Just three phrases: “Thank you, I’m sorry, I love you”. While I am still convinced I will reunite with some of my oldest and closest friends here, including Jared, Julia, and Via, who are also saying goodbye, and I fully intend to keep up with StudLife somehow throughout my next six years, I still have to say a potentially permanent goodbye to the college experience and to the version of me that was created these past four years. 

In that spirit, thank you, WashU. Thank you for the opportunity to have a college experience that made me excited to wake up every day. Thank you for the chance to do anything and everything I wanted to try. Thank you to all of my friends who have supported me, taught me something new, and made me smile and laugh. Thank you to all my roommates who put up with me and listened to me ramble. Thank you to my advisors and mentors who helped me find and get closer to my passion. Thank you to the WashU Catholic Student Center and StudLife for helping me to exercise and grow in my leadership skills in projects I truly care about. Thank you Lab for surprising me. For being fearless and seeking out memories.

In all honesty, I don’t have much that I regret of my time here. I’m sorry that there are more friends out there than I possibly could have kept up with. I’m sorry that there are dozens of clubs that I couldn’t join.

I could add on another 500 words to this letter saying individual names of people I have met here, but I imagine those people know who they are, and if they don’t, that is something I’m sorry about. Lab, I love you. When you think about it, we all change, but that’s good so long as you remember the people you used to be. I will always remember when Lab was me. Thank you for the memories and for making me into whoever I become.

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