“Walk towards your discomfort.” These were the words of Ray Martinez II moments before we were matriculated into the Southwestern community, moments before the class of 2021 embarked on our journey. An assembly of eager-to-prove-ourselves students, we began a journey filled with late nights in the library and hours upon hours conversing with faculty. These words, “Walk towards your discomfort,” resonated with me throughout my academic life here at Southwestern.

Arriving at Southwestern, I was determined to save lives and become a doctor. I would major in biochemistry, ace my MCATs, and get into my top medical school choice. “This would be easy,” I thought, just like high school. Oh, boy, was I wrong, and spoiler alert: not one of those things happened. 

At SU, I set a record for the amount of time spent in professors’ office hours. This started with my FYS with Professor HB. I wanted to build connections between subjects and to better understand how things functioned in the world. I attempted to make those connections and was often answered with, “not quite, but think of it this way.” I began to become comfortable with the discomfort of failure, for I knew with each failure, I learned more.  

At SU, I had the honor of conducting faculty-led research with chemistry professor Willis Weigand. I was confronted with challenge after challenge and failure after failure. I would come to him with undesired results and be confused, nervous, and defeated. Each time, his cheerful reply was, “Well, that’s why they call it research!”  

Here, I learned that we fail to learn how not to fail. 

At Southwestern University, we learn not for the exam but for life’s challenges. We learn resilience, dedication, compassion for one another, skills to think critically and creatively, and an ability to walk towards discomfort. 

Friends, we live in trying times. But we have grown so much by walking towards our discomfort, where we access not only inner growth but growth that will heal and mend the world. 

We have dedicated the past four years to get to this point. Let us rejoice in our journey; let us rejoice in our memories.