Graduation: Liberation or the sword of Damocles

The realization that we only have 4 week s left in the fall semester, has come with a mix of happiness and increased anxiety. References to graduation in my classes have gotten more and more poignant. As seniors, we are “facing graduation”, as if we’re “facing the firing squad” or “on the verge of graduation”, like “being on the verge of jumping off a cliff.” And in reality, some days, it feels just like that. Jumping off the cliff of Certainty (or perceived Certainty). Jumping into the unknown with a shrinking safety net. Jumping, full of a level of adrenaline only something as amazing as finishing up a degree can give you, yet scared sh_tless, nonetheless.

Only this fear isn’t ours alone. Our professors remind us every day in class, with every comment followed by “especially, in this economic climate”. Adults shake their heads and say “In all my years, I’ve never seen anything like this”. You can see it from the slow shake of the head what they’re thinking “I sure wouldn’t wanna be you, graduating right now, kid.” The freak-out moments that occured way back in Sophomore year are slowly coming back, “Crap! What am I going to do with my life? Oh, crap! I don’t know the answer to that question.” It’s the feeling you get on a test when you realize that you’ve read every section of your notes, except for that small section that is now worth half your grade on the exam. It’s feeling like you should know, though you have no idea.

In the past week, a few amazing speakers have come to Cornell that just inspired the “heck out of me”. Though their words were eloquent, elegant and elevating, it’s the thought of having a vision such as theirs that inspired me. One speaker, especially, emphasized the fact that most of the things happening as a movement are being organized by people our age.

That led me to ask many questions about those young people. If “especially in this economic climate”, or looking at all the atrocities in the news, there are young people are finding the hope and the motivation to act, I want to know about them. When I started looking around online, or asking my peers, my list started getting longer and longer, richer and richer.

So, I’ll be writing a little bit on these people. Usually young people as defined as being between 15 and 35. I’ll try to keep the list about people under 30. Some are alive, some have passed on. Some have acted because they were inspired, Some have acted because they felt they had no choice. They all act through different mediums and speak to different communities.

Since the rhetoric right now is that we are a more global society, I will be talking about young people from all over the world. There will be a bias toward African youth, because being from the continent, things about Africa hit my radar the fastest, but I promise, it’ll be a very diverse list. There will also be a section on Cornellians, people in our classrooms, who are on their way to acting on our world.

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