06/27/2014 01:38 pm ET Updated Aug 27, 2014

The 7 Words You Should Say Before You Graduate

This is part of our monthly series 'Mission: Accepted,' in partnership with Minds Matter, which chronicles the lives of four students as they apply for college in their senior year.

This is the end. With only weeks left of school, there isn't much left to do with the exception of buying some new things I will need for college such as school supplies and thicker winter clothes. Even though I'm staying in California, there is a difference in climate between the south and north. Honestly, what is there left to do other than to start saying goodbye?

A couple of days ago, I was walking past my old middle school, which I haven't seen in three years. As I looked through the fence that surrounds it, I noticed that everything seemed so foreign that I began to doubt I ever went there. I saw my old classrooms, places where I would play with my friends and also where I was stung by a bee. They built a gym and made more renovations to the place. It now stands as a STEM academy. But here I am, about to be out of high school and an adult in the eyes of the law. Time seems to go so fast. Scratch that, time does go by fast.

At elementary, I began dreaming of the things I wanted to be: a police officer, a paleontologist, an architect. In middle school, my science teacher introduced me to the idea of being an engineer and that stuck all the way to high school. As I walked past my middle school, I walked along a path that my mother, brother, and I used to take to go to our elementary school. My mother would always tell us on our way to school to do well, to get good grades so that one day we could go to college. Every morning and every afternoon, she would remind us. My father bought us colorful encyclopedias in kindergarten (for kids) that he put in a small reachable shelf for us to read and I would spend my evenings pulling one out and looking at the pictures until I was able to read them all. I knew that someday I would head to college, if only to make my parents proud and I thank them for planting that seed in my head.

It's strange and amazing how a couple of things can shape the future and your path in life. What if my parents didn't remind me or bought me those books? Would I be here telling you this? If we look back to what caused us to go to college and what things lead us there, you'd be amazed as well. Senior year is wrapping up and graduation is around the corner.

Thank those who have helped you get there, if that's your parents, elementary/middle/high school teachers or friends. Tell them, "You're the reason I got this far." I'm going to visit my elementary and middle school very soon and tell all the teachers who have helped me "thank you." Who knows, maybe in a couple of years someone else will come to you and show you exactly the same gratitude.