As We Take Our Last Breath As Undergrads

My Fellow Graduates,

When you took your first breath on Earth, you underwent a beautiful, irreversible transformation. Before, your lungs were fully immersed in fluid, but your body was now introduced to an alternate input: oxygen. You desperately respired, admitting this new substrate into your body. And there it was. The marvelous beginning of you.

When you chose to attend UCSB, your mind likely underwent a similar, irrevocable transformation. You found new perspectives, new friends, new ideas. You probably also took a similar approach to education. Constantly learning, collaborating and always desperate to take in that one extra fact. Supplementing that everyday t-shirt weather, breezy walk to Campus Point or surf break in between classes, these past few years were filled with constant learning and as a result, newfound wisdom.

I never fathomed this day would finally come, especially as fast as it really did. Class of 2013, we made it.

When it’s finally over and Chancellor Yang bestows our well-deserved diplomas on that stage with thousands of spectators, many of us will wake up the next day with a feeling of emptiness. A cue for those unsettling questions: “Where should I go? What should I do? Why should I do it?” It’s bound to happen, and you’re certainly not alone.

I personally recount many nights I contemplated dropping out. Hell, if Jobs, Gates and Zuckerberg managed to get away with it, why couldn’t I? But there’s something about staying at this place that evokes progress … evokes purpose … evokes meaning.

Then, we got to I.V. We enjoyed many a late-night Freebirds run, sloppy Bill’s Bus ride or embarrassing karaoke performance at OTT. Memories from those amazing I.V. nights will be with you for the rest of your life.

And here we are, on the brink of graduation. For some of us, this is the end of our road to education. Don’t fall into this trap. It’s naive. It’s ignorant. It’s unintelligent. This is just the beginning. Not even cliché. It’s true.

We are the next generation of leaders. We are sophisticated. We are tech-savvy. We are accepting. And we are still young.

The past few years here have been eventful for sure. In my last year here, I lost the first friend I met my first year living in FT (Santa Catalina), who tragically passed away last November. It was the first time I had cried in years. But if there’s one thing he taught me, it’s that we should seize every waking moment.

As we transition into the daunting “real world,” let’s hold onto a couple things:

• Don’t lose your childlike curiosity. As Gandhi once put it, “Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever.”

• Share your opinions. Life is too short to safeguard them. Be open-minded to different perspectives and constantly change your own.

• Be inspired and inspire others. Don’t lose the relentless motivation that powered you through college in the first place.

• Don’t lose contact with those that truly made a difference. Every so often, remember to let them know you care about them.

• Relish your past but look forward to your future. Sure, cherish your memories, but also look ahead to all the precious things life will have in store for you.

To my fellow graduates: Good luck to all of you. I earnestly hope you find success and happiness. We have undoubtedly changed and become better through our collegiate experiences.

One more thing, continue to treat your life serendipitously. Stop taking the path that you felt has been assigned to you. Create your own journey from here on out.

Peace out, Gauchos. I’ll see you all next April for our first reunion.

Kiyan Rajabi has been the Health & Wellness columnist for the past two years. He plans to pursue a career in health entrepreneurship. If that doesn’t pan out, he can always fall back on his motivational speaking skills.

A version of this article appeared online only at on Thursday, June 6, 2013.