Dear UBC 2020 Graduates

Hey UBC, and hello to my fellow graduates of 2020. I’m Francis Penacerrada and I just wanted to say… WE DID IT! It is probably a weird feeling for us all that instead of walking across the stage, and shaking President Ono’s hand, we’re sitting in front of our TVs watching the virtual stream of our graduation. Though it may be bitter sweet saying farewell to UBC through a screen, the feeling still holds true – immense pride and joy in myself, and my fellow graduates. Some of us finished our degrees in 4 years, others in 5, 6 or 7. Needless to say, today is the day for us to get on our way. 

Many of us are thinking this, so I will happily say it: Thank you to our friends, family, loved ones, and those that made a quick stop in our lives. You have all made us who we are today. You have either given us a hard lesson, guided us, helped us, or shaped us. A big shout out goes to the graduates of course – we’ve had to face adversity in all forms, from mental health, juggling our personal, work and school lives, [transit issues], the list goes on. No one is going to take away the fact that we all worked hard to get to where we are now. 

As much as I would like to say that university held some of the best years of my life this far, it was also some of the most difficult. It feels as though I went through a full character arc, from dealing with mental health issues, to finding myself across the planet, to coming back and learning what it means to take care of myself and wellbeing. If I were to be given a second chance to relive my days during university, I would not change a single thing. I would not be who I am today, nor would the next person. I look back at these 5 years and think “Wow, I really did ALL of that.” I’ve come a long way from being that introverted girl in first year, to being part of a great initiative called the Move U Crew. I was fortunate enough to find my niche within the UBC community. Many of us might feel this way, but I can only hope that I made a small difference in peoples’ lives. 

Although we are parting ways with UBC, and possibly with a lot of the friends we made, please keep in mind: It is not goodbye, but see you soon. Tuum est graduates. Let’s make a change in the world.