Caritas.

In my high school yearbook, my dad wrote me a note in the parents well-wishes section. Before he signed it, he closed with a Latin phrase: Veritas, Unitas, Caritas. Of course, I didn’t know what it meant so my best friend Emily googled it. It turns out it was the core values of Villanova, and they were simple: Truth, Unity, & Love. I appreciated my dad’s sentiment but thought nothing more of it.

Little did I know that these three words would shape not only my Villanova experience, but also change my life.

I just graduated. Most of you reading this probably just graduated too. It’s caused me to do a lot of reflecting, maybe a little bit of crying, but mostly just recognizing the deep appreciation I have for these three values. And while I think all are important and served a purpose through my four years, there’s one that ties it all together, one that creates the others, one that I will always carry with me.

Caritas. Love.

I don’t think I truly knew the meaning of love until I came to Villanova. And I think my understanding of it changed as I grew and changed. I’ve learned about the romantic kind, the familial kind, the one in friendship and the kind that’s faith filled. I’ve seen it in all its unique forms, from the kind that sets your heart on fire, to the version that whispers when you were too broken. It is the core of the two other values, the one thing that makes Villanova a home. Love is what makes learning the truth possible. It allowed me to find a love of learning and my passion for writing. It gave me the freedom to learn the truth about myself. It’s the sole pillar of unity and community. Love is Villanova, and Villanova is love.

And I would know nothing about love if it weren’t for the people who taught me about it. They’re the ones I will miss so dearly as we embark on the rest of our journeys.

Thank you to the 5th floor of Stanford and my Get Real group; you showed me how to laugh during one of the most difficult transitions of my life. To my freshman-year break trip and the ones that followed, you gave me some of my best friends and showed me how to live simply so others can simply live. Thank you particularly the El Paso fam and my co-leader JD. You guys showed me how to love as a leader and supported me when I was having a hard time believing in it.

Thank you to my little friends from RUIBAL, you reminded me of the simple joy of childhood. To all the SpO athletes I’ve watched compete, you showed me that support and good sportsmanship are far more important than winning. To all my fellow retreat goers and participants, thank you for sharing. It gave me the courage to share too.

Thank you to Blue Key for allowing me to share my love for Villanova and giving me a community that I would have for all four years. To Exec, you showed me that always staying true to myself and fighting for what is right will always pay off, that friendship is stronger than hardship, that together we really can make a difference.

To Orientation staff: I wouldn’t even be able to call Villanova home without you. You’ve changed my life in immeasurable ways and allowed me to discover sides of myself that I never knew existed. To Group K, you showed me how love can make you so proud it brings you to tears, a fierce type of motherly love that will always make me call you my Baby K’s. And of course to Steering: you are my family. I never knew the kind of familial love you could have towards friends until last August. It will always be one of the best times of my life.

Thank you to my Senior Project group who never got sick of me even after spending countless hours together, to all my favorite professors who changed how I think of the world around me. To my best friends who have held me when I cried, who laughed until our stomachs hurt, who danced with me just because. To all my roommates throughout the years, you helped turn cinder-block dorm rooms and empty apartments into temporary homes. To the guy whom I loved for so long yet left my heart broken, you showed me the depth of my love. And to Ry, thank you for picking up the broken pieces and showing me that I could love again.

To the senior class: I may not know all of you, but your friendly faces made this place a home, and Villanova won’t be the same without you. You showed me love every day, especially this weekend when I think it mattered the most. I could feel the love when we raised a V to our fellow classmates in heaven, when we cheered for our peer who cast her wheelchair aside and walked across stage. Love was in our held hands at baccalaureate mass, in our teary eyes when Father Peter reminded us we will always be loved.

Caritas. If there’s one thing I will take from Villanova, it’s love. Because love will always guide us, and love will always bring us home.

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