Life Lessons from the Library: Learn to Say Goodbye

Graduation is tonight, and I will watch another group of students go on to jobs or universities. It’s always a bittersweet moment. I’m glad that they’ve accomplished a goal. And I’m glad that they are setting new goals and making plans to achieve them.

But I will miss them. This year, we have several students who are leaving. Lida and Homa left for Belmont University in December. They were usually in the library studying, and they occasionally asked for literature research help. Sheeba is also graduating tonight. She has worked as a student tutor and calls the library her second home. She studies here, and after she started tutoring, she also ate at our back table to give herself a short reprieve from science and math questions. Also, student worker Mike is leaving. He’s not officially graduating but has enough credits to go on to pursue his goal of dental school.

Then there are the ones that I don’t know personally, but recognize from their time in the library. During graduation, it is often the first time I put a name to a face. But I will think, “Oh, that is the woman who always smiles when she comes in the door.” Or “That is the young guy who always checks out the Differential Equations book.” Or even, “That’s the student who always kept the Chemistry book too long, and we had to go hunt him down in the Learning Center.”  For most of these students, our contact was regular but brief, just a wave or a friendly few words as they were checking out books, or a quick answer to some citation questions.  Still, it was enough for us to feel a sense of community, a sense of belonging to each other and to this college.

It is the nature of my job  to always be in the process of saying goodbye. Students come for only a short time, make an impression, and then move on. It is the way it should be. And I’ve learned a lot from them as I’ve tried to help them through their academic, and sometimes personal, hardships and celebrated their successes when they shared them. It is a most fortunate job I have, and I never fail to appreciate it.

Even when it’s bittersweet, as it is tonight, as I say goodbye to another group of graduates.

I wish you all luck and happiness!

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