The semester is quickly coming to a close and many students are faced with an array of exciting – and possibly overwhelming – options for the upcoming years. As the next chapters of our lives beckon, we have the unique privilege of deciding what journey we wish to embark on next. From various conversations I’ve had with peers, I understand that, for many, university graduation is accompanied by anxieties and worries for the future, and many graduating students are still trying to figure out their next moves.
University presented each of us with various obstacles, challenging us to work harder, to better ourselves as contributing members of society, and to establish and foster our uniquely individual identities. Being Jewish, we are a minority on campus. We did not let our identities and religious affiliation hold us back. Rather, we used it as a link to get involved with Ottawa’s Jewish community and to make our mark. From my own experience, my university career allowed my Jewish identity to flourish and grow. This has been a time in my life where I have become more involved than I have ever been in a Jewish community – and that is something that I will always be grateful for.
The past few years have taught me great amounts about myself. I learned how to be an advocate for Israel and how to be an impactful leader of our Jewish student body. I learned how to multi-task and prioritize my time. I learned the value of true friends and of real lasting relationships. I learned the feeling of dependence and that of true independence. I have experienced triumphs and challenges, love and loss, trial and error.
I promise to take all I have learned from living in Ottawa and carry that with me wherever my future takes me. Ottawa is a gem of a city, and I will continue to represent its vibrant community wherever I go, encouraging other students to make the same decision as I did in choosing to spend my university career here.
For those who may be starting your university journey in the coming years, consider the following while deciding which institution to attend. Go to the school that holds the most promise and the most opportunity. Go for your program of study and for the city it resides in. Your true friends from high school will continue to be your friends regardless of whether you attend the same university. Wherever you go, make the most of the experience. Get involved in student affairs and campus life. Become a leader in the community, participate in various clubs, and contribute to multiple organizations. Each of these things will enrich your university experience and you will graduate feeling incredibly fulfilled and accomplished for investing so much of your time and energy into these groups and activities. Stay true to yourself, work hard, enjoy every moment, and proudly wear your Jewish identity.
Ottawa has allowed me to grow as an individual, giving me so much more than I ever expected my undergraduate experience would. The warmth and friendly atmosphere this city exudes is truly spectacular. I have only been here for a few years, but it feels like home. Although I am leaving the city for the time being to attend law school, I do feel as though it will always be a place I am comfortable returning to. I leave this city with bittersweet feelings, though convinced there is a bright future for Ottawa’s Jewish student body. I am sure it will only continue to cultivate and thrive, enhancing the university experiences of many Jewish university students to come.
Thank you for your hospitality, Ottawa. It’s been a wonderful few years, full of adventures I won’t soon forget.