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Graduates: Don't forget to give back


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Matt Gray
Columnist
By Matt Gray
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Wednesday, May 11, 2005
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Well, it's been four (or five or six) long years, but for several thousand of our fellow students, the time for graduation has finally come. Most will enter the job market and thus the "real world," while many will avoid real work like the plague one way or another (by going to law school, for example). Graduates will take many paths, but almost all will lead away from here. In fact, the only link many alumni will have to the UA will be their annual subscription to the Arizona Daily Wildcat throughout their lives.

Yet no matter how far away you travel, or how high you climb, don't forget the school that helped you get there. Some day, when your days of eating ramen noodles are long gone, and the people you worry about while you're away are your children and not your roommates, remember to support the UA.

Right now it might seem hard to imagine giving even more money to the university. Many new alumni leave with tens of thousands of dollars in student loans to remind them of just how much it cost to go to college. However, some day those loans will paid, and you'll be more than able to give back to the UA. Unfortunately, many alumni never quite bridge the gap from able to willing.

The truth is, no matter how much you've spent on going to college, at the UA you're still getting a bargain. Not one of us has to pay the full cost of our education because the Arizona taxpayers pick up a large chunk of the bill. Sure, the legislature seems to pinch university funds at every opportunity, but we're still talking about serious money. If those millions weren't coming from the state, they'd be coming from you and me.

Plus, most of us receive serious financial aid to help cover our comparatively low tuition. This money is the only thing that makes college possible for many of us. However, many students and alumni seem to believe that hidden deep within the administration building somewhere is the great wildcat tree where all of the financial aid money grows. Instead, the university has to seek out scholarship money wherever it can, and a major funding source for this and every university is alumni donations.

Within this year's graduating class there are thousands of success stories. There are fourth-generation Wildcats, and there are young people who are the first in their family to go to college. There are students who have overcome poverty, overcome disease and overcome tragedy to earn a UA degree. Unfortunately, success today doesn't guarantee success tomorrow.

With state support for the UA on the decline and tuition on the rise, it's going to get harder for future classes to mirror the class of 2005. The best hope for the next generation of students is that financial aid and other benefits will increase near the same rate as tuition and other costs. That's where our new graduates come in. The Alumni Association will be in touch soon enough. They'll introduce you to fellow Wildcats wherever you go, and they'll help you stay in touch with the friends you've made. More importantly, they'll show you the many ways you can support your new alma mater.

So graduates, enjoy these next few days. Spend some time with your friends and let them know what they've meant to you. Before you know it, you'll be seeing them a couple times a year at best. Take a minute to appreciate your accomplishment. You've received something that most people throughout the world and throughout history never have. Finally, keep in mind that you never could have done it alone. Make sure to thank everyone who supported you along the way, and remember that the UA students of the future are counting on you to return the favor.

Now that it's the end of the year, I'd also like to take a moment to thank a few people. Thanks to the copy editors and everyone else at the Wildcat who work to make these columns look much better than they are when they leave my hands. Most of all, thanks to Opinions Editor Ryan Johnson, a really, really good-looking guy. To everyone else, thanks for reading. Stay safe over the summer, and we'll see most of you next year.

,i>Matt Gray is a second-year law student. He can be reached at letters@wildcat.arizona.edu.



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