It’s hard to believe that after a year and a half, my time at Binghamton University has already come to an end. It doesn’t seem possible, but it certainly feels real. Classes are over, papers have been turned in and I’ve already donned my cap and gown. I have been waiting six and a half years for this moment and I welcome it with open arms. The real world beckons and I am ready to answer, but not before I leave my friends, fellow students and faithful Pipe Dream readers with some advice.

During my time as an undergraduate student at three different institutions in the U.S. and two in Africa, I would like to think I learned a thing or two worth sharing. So, here it goes.

1. Work hard: You are at BU to learn, succeed and earn a degree. But you won’t get any of that unless you work for it. It may be hard at times, but no one ever said college would be easy. Put in the effort, reap the rewards and be satisfied that you worked your butt off to get where you are.

2. Stay positive: Don’t let life, school or difficult situations get you down. It’s tough, but looking on the bright side and remaining positive will improve nearly any situation. Think twice before complaining or being negative. Staying positive, despite life’s road bumps, will truly make your journey easier and better.

3. Be kind: Nothing will get you further in life than being nice to others. Don’t waste your time being mean and rude. It’s easy and a cop-out. Be kind and compassionate, help someone out, say a simple thank you. You won’t be sorry and you’ll be a much better person for it.

4. Surround yourself with good people: If you choose to spend your time with people who are rude to you, who don’t support you or who create unnecessary drama, that’s on you. Believe me when I say it’s not worth the stress. You can vastly improve your life by choosing to surround yourself with people who love and support you — loyal friends and family and good-natured people.

5. Find your niche: This one is more specifically for time spent at BU, but it’s important. I was lucky enough to find the perfect fit within the first two weeks of my arrival here. Pipe Dream has become the most important part of my time here; I don’t know where I’d be without it. You can have the same experience with any of the clubs, sports or programs on campus. Pick something you’re interested in or good at, try a few things out and find a way to get involved.

6. Be adventurous: What is life without a little adventure? Take a chance and do something you’ve never done before, something you’ve always wanted to try or something that will challenge you. Go to an event to learn a new skill (I learned how to bachata at Ballroom Club), take a class that will make you see life from a different perspective (I learned a lot from Youth and Pop Culture of North Africa) or study abroad (I suggest anywhere in Africa, especially Botswana). Take a chance, you probably won’t regret it.

7. Life is what you make it: Obvious, right? Whether good or bad, you get to choose what your life is like. The decisions you make, both big and small, will shape your life, sometimes when you don’t even realize it. Your time at BU can be absolutely awful or it can be incredibly amazing. Make the most out of every opportunity, take advantage of all the resources offered to you and, most importantly, choose to have a good life.

Well, that’s all I’ve got, my parting words of advice. Do with it what you will, but I hope you’ll take at least some of it. Using it in my own life at Binghamton and beyond has made my time here exceptional. The good days outweighed the bad, I’ve lived and learned and I can leave knowing that my time was not wasted. I feel blessed to have spent time here at Bing, as short as it was. I will be forever thankful for the education I’ve received and grateful for the friends I’ve made. I’ve grown so much and I sincerely wish the same for all of you.