IMG_8327My college experience can be compared to a shooting star. Eye-opening at first, which then led to the time of my life. However, it was all so fleeting. In the blink of an eye, it is all over. All of the people I have met and the memories I have made along the way will carry with me throughout the rest of my life. Last month, I had the honor of walking across the stage in Elliott Hall to accept my Bachelor’s of Science in Hospitality and Tourism Management (HTM). It is the greatest accomplishment I have achieved yet in my life, and it will lead me to even greater achievements. I look forward to what my bright future holds with many thanks to give to Purdue University. I may be moving onto big things; however, I will always come back to my second home to visit the area that shaped me into the professional I am today. [caption id="attachment_7101" align="alignleft" ]Starry Night Festival Starry Night Festival[/caption] There are a variety of aspects from this community that I will hold dear to my heart. Surprisingly, I will miss the many late nights spent at the Union with my body solely powered on Starbucks. I will always crave Triple XXX’s root beer with their delicious hamburgers to pair it with. Every fall, I will always wish I were back in West Lafayette to experience my favorite festival, Starry Night Festival, with a warm cup of Greyhouse Coffee in hand. Every winter, I will remember standing in awe of the two-story Christmas tree within the Purdue Memorial Union. I will forever brag about the free zoo within Columbian Park and the many cuddles I have received from baby goats. I will always look back on the many times my fellow HTM students and I sat in the awkwardly designed lecture hall in Marriott Hall laughing along with some of the best professors in the entire nation. They are all such simple things, yet they are aspects of my time at Purdue that I will forever treasure. [caption id="attachment_7104" align="alignleft" ]Paris! Paris![/caption] It is not only the campus and experiences that have shaped me, but it is also the life-changing people who have impacted me in ways I could have never imagined. The friendships I have made are some of the strongest I will ever have. No matter where our lives take us, I know I will always have the support of my life-long college friends. My academic advisor, Maggy Leitch, and all of my professors in HTM have been nothing short of a blessing. They have guided me to opportunities that most people never get the chance to experience. My schooling has led me to amazing experiences in Indianapolis, Chicago, across the country in Portland, OR, and even across the world in France. Maggy and my professors have impacted my life more than they know. Finally, my work family here at Visit Lafayette-West Lafayette has been the biggest support system since my move to Purdue. These empowering, inspiring women have helped me professionally grow by seeing potential in me that I never even realized I had. It has led me to find passions within myself that will carryout through my life. The experiences through Visit Lafayette-West Lafayette have been my gateway to a successful career. All of these experiences and people have a special place in my heart, and looking back, there is no doubt in mind that this is exactly where I was supposed to be during this time of my life. IMG_8330To my fellow graduating seniors, I hope you had the time of your life at Purdue. Be prepared for a life full of challenges but also the greatest rewards yet. I am very confident that our education and time spent at Purdue has prepared us for a prosperous life. Our undergraduate studies may be over, but we still bleed the Black and Gold. We remain ever faithful and ever true to the university that started it all. Sometimes you will never know the value of a moment until it becomes a memory, but now it is our time to make our fellow Boilermakers proud. Boiler up! Kaley, Purdue University Graduate and Visit Lafayette-West Lafayette past fellow Visitor Information Specialist (who is dearly missed by Visit Staff), shares this blog.