In the past four years, Georgetown has given us more than we could have imagined. We’ve learned the intricacies of electoral politics and corporate finance, sure, but more importantly, we’ve discovered friends, and we’ve discovered ourselves. The gifts that this university has given us will be paid forward in time when we positively impact the world, when we send our own kids to Georgetown or even when we give up our time to interview future Hoyas. But over the past semester, as I’ve been thinking back on my time here, I’ve realized that there’s one gift that Georgetown selflessly grants its graduates. Besides our diplomas, what this university has really given us is a place where we’ll be forever young, a place where we’ll be forever 22 years old, full of energy, full of optimism and full of life.

My own GAAP weekend in April 2009, which seems like a million years ago, was a day full of reflection for theHoyas already on campus; it was Georgetown Day. I remember sitting in Gaston Hall listening to speeches given by seniors, professors and administrators about how great Georgetown was, how it was a place where we could pursue our passions.

To a large extent, the experience in Gaston was the reason that I came to Georgetown. I wanted to be a part of something bigger, and I wanted to belong to a place that bettered everyone. Looking back more than four years later, a different conversation from that day comes to mind. While the speeches in Gaston were memorable, the most vivid memory I have is of a simple conversation I had on Copley Lawn. I was walking with a friend from high school when we were casually stopped by some seniors. They began to pelt us with questions about how we liked Georgetown, if we planned to come and if there was anything they could do to show us a good time. After the initial disappointment that we didn’t yet look like college kids — it must have been the nametags and lack of a tank top on Georgetown Day that gave us away — we told him that we loved it and that we were coming. “Embrace every day,” one of them said. “Make every day worthwhile. You’re only young once.” Those words meant nothing to me then. Sure, you’re only young once, but I still have a lot of youth left, I thought.

Now, as sobering a thought as it is, my youth is essentially gone. It’s time to grow up. And while Georgetown has prepared us for this moment since New Student Convocation, it’s now time to embrace the next chapter in our lives. Some of us are staying in Washington D.C., some are moving to Alaska and some are even going to Kabul. Some of us might walk out of the front gates on May 18 and not walk back ever again. But we’re ready. We’re ready for our next challenges because of Georgetown.

While we’re armed with a degree, hopefully a job and an uncanny ability to quickly wash The Tombs’ stamp off of our hand before we meet someone important, what we’re really taking away from our little bubble in the corner of the District are memories. I’ll forever be 19 duringSnowpocalypse. I’ll forever be 20 in the memory of moving into 1320 35th St. And we’ll forever be 22 when we put on the cap and gown and walk across that stage.

Years from now, when we visit our childhood homes, we’ll be immediately transported back to that first catch we had with our dads or the first time that we pulled out of the driveway with no one else in the car. At that house, in that yard, we’re forever young. I’m going to look at Georgetown like that. This is the other place I grew up; this is the place where I really found out not only who I was but who I wanted to be. From now on, I’ll be a little bit older every time I visit the Hilltop, a little more displaced from my youth. But that’s why I’m so grateful for this gift. In our memories of this place, we’ll always be young. We’ll always have our youth. We’ll always have Georgetown.

John Morris is a senior in the College. He is former chairman of the board of directors of Students of Georgetown, Inc.

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