A fond farewell to Trinity: Cheers to class of 2022

Here it is everyone, the moment we’ve all been waiting for: my final send-off.

Now that sounds like I’m going to war, but really I’m just graduating. Yes, I know. The lack of my presence at Trinity will hugely impact campus life. What will every one do without me? Just kidding, I’m excited to be graduating class of 2022 because it’s been an incredibly challenging four years and I know all of us worked hard for it.

Like many other graduates, this moment is insanely bittersweet. I have never felt so relieved yet so terrified in my entire life. It’s now the time to be a bona fide adult, to be a part of something that I don’t even know exists yet: the future. I can say that this time has absolutely flown by. It feels like only a short time ago I was a little (rather, very) nervous freshman who had 50 multicolored pens, accented English and something to prove. Did I prove what I needed? Only time will tell. Also, I now only use blue, red and black pens. Character development.

I feel as though I lived a million lifetimes through the course of my college years. I started jobs and ended jobs, loved them and hated them. I joined clubs and found my place in student media, among so many other intelligent and wonderful student journalists who not only showed me how to walk the walk but also acted as an incredible support system throughout my time here. I tried things and failed and then got back up and failed again. I cried and laughed and questioned and wondered aloud, “What on Earth did I get myself into?” I witnessed firsthand how COVID-19 impacted my college experience, along with so many others who weren’t as lucky as me. These million lifetimes somehow fit into a measly 1,460 days. 1,460 is a lot to take for granted. And I don’t regret any of it.

Looking back, I think I would hate my high school self. Who gave her the right, you know? So ambitious she would stop at nothing and would sucker punch anything that got in her way. I’d like to say I still have that drive, but instead, ambition has turned into determination. Something a little softer, a little more understanding of my sleep schedule and mental health. I am determined to accomplish these goals for the week, instead of stopping at nothing and taking on too much. I’d like to sit my 17-year-old self down and say, “Just breathe. Take it one day at a time. Forever is composed of nows. Don’t use your nows as a way to get to forever.” A little softer, a little kinder for Mai.

Going forward, I will be going to Spain for my Masters, studying with some of the world’s famous entertainment professionals, and hopefully starting my own record label or a program to shed light on the rich cultural traditions of Southeast Asia. On a serious note, I believe my purpose is to help others and never lose my love for music. Ultimately, I’m very selfish and should be stopped at all costs, but for now, I will use every part of me to get to the point of being there for others, of helping them in ways and with resources, I could have never thought possible.

The fondest memories that I have at Trinity are basically just spending time with some special people. Some of them were my professors, some of them were my juniors and mostly they were all my friends. And in this process, I became very close and formed deep friendships. Some may not be an active part of my life today or might not be in the days to come, but they were the main reason why college life became so memorable.

Now that college has ended, I feel a little sad and nostalgic. There was so much freedom and I got the opportunity to try so many things that I may not ever get to experience again. I nearly became the person I wanted to become when I started this beautiful journey. I am still striving every day to become even better. And I am very satisfied and happy with it. I am also ready and excited for the new phase of life ahead and feel that Trinity has prepared me well for that.

For my international friends, you all are amazing. International students get really lonely during this time of the year. Everyone else has family and friends that come and cheer them on, but most of us don’t have anybody because it’s a long way to travel, and it just simply costs so much. My parents haven’t even been to Trinity. I’ve performed so many times on stage and they haven’t been able to see me. Of course, it’s disappointing and sad, but I know that my parents and my siblings love me and they would come to support me if they could.

But finish, walk across the podium when they call your name and smile knowing that you’re strong and capable. Focus on the fact that you are completing a huge chapter of your life that you’ve worked very hard for, and look forward to what you have ahead. The thing is, if you focus on the sucky situation of your parents not being there, you’ll miss out on the joy and sense of accomplishment that is meant to accompany you at college graduation. You are independent, you are strong and you are your family’s biggest pride at that moment. Let’s all bring home that diploma and spend a well-deserved break with our families!

There are so many people along the way that I could not have gotten here without. All of you, who never doubted me and never stopped believing in me, who gave me an undeserving amount of support, and helped me through times of despair and serious doubt. Also, thank you to the Trinitonian staff. You trusted me time and time again with the weight of words on a page and gave me so many opportunities to hone my journalistic skills and style. I am forever grateful for the support and encouragement.

Oh my. Here we are at the end. We finally reached the end, or maybe just the beginning? I think it’s up to me to decide. It wouldn’t be a proper ending or beginning without the use of someone else’s words. The great comedian/actor/dynamite Jewish gal Jenny Slate writes in her book entitled “Little Weirds” some fantastic lines, but I’ll quote her grandmother instead.

“It’s not just that you’re smart, and it’s not just that you’re beautiful. It’s that you’re good.”

So long,
Mai Vo