Hilltoppers chose WKU as their college home for a reason. Whether it was because of the beautiful campus, the academic programs or the study abroad opportunities, WKU has something for everyone. Because of this, no two Hilltoppers are the same. We each have different passions, career paths and different university experiences. One thing we all have in common, however, is the shared goal of graduating.

For some students, graduation can’t get here soon enough; for others, it’s a bittersweet time. I fall into the latter group. Serving as your student body executive vice president for the past two years has made me more connected and more attached to this university than I ever expected. And while I’m sad to be leaving after five years on the Hill, I can’t wait to start the next phase of life, whatever that might be.

To students who are graduating this semester, congratulations! Earning a degree in today’s society is underestimated and is undoubtedly an achievement to be celebrated. You’ve spent years working toward the diploma that will now decorate your future office or home. It’s an accomplishment that should not be taken lightly.

For you who are graduating but still have no idea what your next move is, don’t stress. You are not alone. Thousands of students across the world are in the exact same position. My advice? Enjoy your time in the unknown and take a break. The transition from college to professional life is the ideal time to do the things you never thought you would get the chance to do. Save up and take an international trip, use the downtime between job hunting to learn how to play a musical instrument or even read a book that’s not a class requirement.

For those who are not graduating, enjoy your time on the Hill. Whether you’re on the four-year track or the six-year track, graduation will be here before you know it. My advice is not to take the university for granted; instead, take advantage of what WKU has to offer. Go to a football game and stay for the entire event, or study abroad and join a club that is completely unrelated to your degree. Broaden your knowledge because you will never be around a more diverse group of people than while in college.

Congratulations to the class of 2016! It’s my sincerest hope that your time at WKU has been nothing less than incredible. Your time on the Hill has contributed to both the success and growth of the university, something we are all grateful for. Take with you the memories made, the experiences had and the knowledge gained and share the WKU spirit with the world.

Go Tops!