“Give them their roses while they can still smell them.” This phrase has been on my mind a lot this semester and I am only now starting to realize why. It’s almost as if the universe was sending me a sign that read, in big bold letters, “SIX AND A HALF WEEKS LEFT.”

That’s how much time remains between now and the end of the semester, and when those 46 days become zero the Class of 2019 can officially say they are done being Duke students. I don’t want this reality to shock or startle whoever actually reads my columns. I want it to ground both seniors and underclassmen alike in the fact that time is running short, and that Duke is not forever.  

The finiteness of your time as students hit me this past Sunday night. As I sat in my common room trying my best to hold my own in a game of Trivial Pursuit, I realized that the people around me—most of whom were seniors—were responsible for the overwhelming majority of my fondest Duke experiences. The games of frisbee on the beach during Beach Week; the sprints from student campaign meetings in the pouring rain; the hours-long Super Smash Bros tournaments. The Class of 2019 has been there for it all. 

Mindless fun and undying laughter aren’t all I have gotten from the Class of 2019. On top of those things, I have gotten some of the best examples of how to live life both as a Duke student and as a confused young adult. The moment I stepped on campus I was greeted by a short, lively girl who now refers to everyone she meets as a ‘nugget.’ During the hectic scramble that is first-year rush, I shared moments of calm with one of the best student news reporters I’ll ever meet. Even now when West campus gets a little too stuffy, I let my hair down and lift my teacup up with the coolest frisbee player I know. 

These people and so many more have been integral to my Duke experience. I wish I could, at the end of my time here at Duke, say that I made it through on my own. That I was a trailblazer who made his own way and survived Duke with no help. I learned pretty early on freshman year that individualism doesn’t get you very far on this campus. There’s no way anyone can make it four years without some sort of guidance and mentorship. 

So, forgive me, seniors, when I grill you about your nontraditional career choices. I promise it doesn’t come from a place of malice, but fascination. I want to know what drove you to Teach for America or singing in Nashville or wanting to be the graphic designer for Cory Booker’s campaign. I want to know if that’s something I see myself doing. Most of all, I want to know what you did in your four years here that makes you the GOAT.

Now that your four years are almost up, I hope you take time to revel at this moment. It is the second half of second-semester senior year. I can’t pretend to have the authority to tell you all what to do with your remaining, fleeting time as students. Not only am I not up-to-date on senior year traditions, but Duke has meant something different for each one of you. Whatever that meaning is, I hope these last few weeks remind you why you chose Duke nearly four years ago. I hope you spend time in social settings that remind that you were and always will be a valuable member of the Duke community. I hope you eat your favorite campus meal, visit your favorite professors, try something new, and tick off every graduation requirement (if that’s your thing).

Most of all, I hope you take the time to indulge people like me. People who can’t imagine this campus without you on it. People who are sad to see you go but are so excited about the future you’ve built for yourselves. People who want to tell you one last time about the enormous impact you have made on their lives. People who want to give you your Duke Gardens roses while you can still smell them.

Ryan Williams is a Trinity sophomore. His column runs on alternate Wednesdays.