Thank you, Ben Zefeng Zhang for this photo. You're twice as fine a friend as you are a photographer.

Thank you, Ben Zefeng Zhang for this photo. You’re twice as incredible of a friend as you are a photographer.

I want to say “Thank you” to every single person who has wished me well and congratulated me. The kind words over the past few days have been countless. Really, it has been a long journey, and I would not have been able to do it without the support of friends, family and faculty. Thank you especially to those who continually pushed me in and outside the classroom.

With your encouragement and guidance, I completed three internships, oversaw the publication of UIndy’s student newspaper and founded the UIndy Francophone Club. I was inducted into two honors societies. I completed my bachelor’s degree in English Creative Writing with a minor in (don’t tell grandpa Figy) French. Somehow, I managed to have fun.

To everyone who has asked, “What’s next?” Right now, I will continue looking for full-time employment for the next year. Until I find that, I plan to continue freelancing for the Reporter-Times and look for other freelance opportunities. With the rest of my time, I will try not to get evicted from my apartment by doing carpentry and construction with my dad. In the long run, I want to go back to school to get an MFA in creative writing. This will put me a step closer to my dream of publishing books and, eventually, teaching on the college level. I am signed up to take the GRE in June, and we’ll see where everything goes from there.

If I know anything, though, it’s that life is unexpected. So there will probably be many twists that I didn’t know about before. But that’s nothing new. Going to college, really, was not something I planned to do when I was in high school. At that point, it seemed like too much work for too little reward. After all, I was going to be a rock icon. My life at that point felt aimless. I didn’t know what or how, but I knew that I wanted to create… something.


Me with my beautiful girlfriend Stephanie Snay, a 2012 UIndy grad. (Photo by Lizzie Figy.)

What started me on the path towards academia was meeting up for coffee with a friend. She had just returned from spring break in Maine—a chilly place to vacation at that time of year—and was heading to France for spring term. I was interested, intrigued. And I saw, through her, that college wasn’t just about taking tests and trying to push everyone out of your way in the pursuit of a larger paycheck. It’s a place to learn and grow and push yourself. It’s a place to meet interesting people from all around the world and discover different ways of thinking. And, at least in the humanities, it’s a place to learn that people think differently than you do—and that’s okay.

So thank you, Stephanie Snay, for inspiring me to go to school and supporting me through my undergrad career. I love you, and I am excited about our future together outside of school. But buckle up, because I still have a ways to go.

It feels wrong to end this without saying once more: Thank you, everyone.

Sincerely, James