The Legacy We Leave Behind

outside UCC

By Johann Cardenas, Honour’s Specialization in Bioinformatics

Photo Credits: Laura Densmore

One thing about Western’s campus that I’m fascinated about is the remnants of history that are everywhere around us. I love going to The Spoke in the University Community Center and just looking at the carved names on the tables, zeroing in on just one that is hardly visible after years of Spoke bagels and Rick’s Wednesdays. While thinking about what “Connor” does in 2023 is admittedly fascinating, what captivates me the most is the implicit question that every carved name raises: when I leave Western, how will I be remembered?

            Being a Western Mustang has been an integral part of our identities for many of us, ever since we set foot on this campus. Western was the setting of our closest relationships and fondest memories. It can be hard to accept that when we leave we’ll at best be relegated to a tiny graduation picture in a dusty hallway. But the truth is that it doesn’t have to be that way.

            Your Western legacy isn’t defined by what you leave behind on our campus. It’s defined by what you’ve left behind in others. It’s every friend made, every piece of advice given, and every door held open. Western isn’t just a physical location, it’s a community of students, faculty and staff. The positive impact that you leave on others is how your legacy lives on, far past yourself and our campus.

            So let’s go back to The Spoke tables. On an individual level, each name is a singular tiny wooden etching. But each represents a unique contribution to our collective history. Every single one is a person, with their own hopes and dreams and relationships and positive impacts on our community. Taken all together, it becomes an interconnected tapestry of relationships and names, a neverending mosaic of etching on etching on etching. And when your name is forgotten and etching unintelligible, your legacy will be felt, not remembered, by the reverberations of every act of kindness you complete, and every smile you make.

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