Choosing Wake Forest and ‘divine intervention’
Unlike most people here today, I came to Wake Forest through an unconventional route. As some of you know, I originally attended the Juilliard School where I was going to major in Double Bass Performance. After arriving to Juilliard, I shortly realized, hey this whole music thing is not for me. While I loved the social opportunities of New York, I was not being fulfilled as a complete student.
I was looking for a place that had strong academics, a school where I could be involved in extracurricular activity and most important, a school that had a solid athletic program. So it was not soon after I arrived to Juilliard that I began the college search, again.
I was applying everywhere — places all over the country. I really wanted to have a lot of options. To be honest, Wake Forest was not on my initial list of schools that I considered. I often call my finding and choosing of Wake Forest a moment of divine intervention.
I was reading the US News and World Report Rankings, and I happened to glance at this school named Wake Forest. ( I know in the world of higher education, we often say that rankings dont matter; however, at the time of my second search for college, they did.) It was like God had blown the trumpets, and the flood gates of heaven were opening. I had this feeling of “I think that is the place where I am supposed to be.” I vaguely remembered Wake Forest because I visited Wake Forest when my brother, four years older, was applying to schools; however, I did not have any distinct memories.
I immediately began gathering personal opinions about and doing research into Wake Forest. First, I called my mom, who is like me, a big talker. She went on and on about how she loved Wake Forest, and it was too bad that my brother did not come. Next, I contacted some alumni and friends and they told me how well they thought Wake Forest had prepared them for life. Though it was hard to believe, no one had anything bad to say about Wake Forest.
With everyone saying so many positive things about Wake Forest and it being closer to my home in Atlanta, Wake Forest quickly became my top choice. With Wake being my top choice , I told myself: “Jermyn, you should probably figure out how much this school costs. So I checked the website and saw the price tag. My initial reaction was: Well, I guess thats all she wrote for Wake Forest;
There was absolutely no way my parents could afford for a Wake Forest education. Five years prior, my father had been forced into retirement; however, as a minister, he saw it as a chance to do more volunteer work in our church community. Then, two years later, due to diabetic retinopathy, my mom lost her vision and had to stop working. However, my faith was and is a big part of my life, so I believed everything would work out and I would end up at Wake Forest.
So I got into Wake Forest because of generous people like Guy T. Carswell, Tom and Ruth Mullen, Thomas Hearn Jr., and people like each of you my dream of attending Wake Forest became a reality.
Now broaching the end of my collegiate career, I can proudly say that I have made the most of my Wake Forest opportunity. I have been extremely involved in a multitude of activities of campus. I have volunteered in our Wake Forest Community. I have studied and did independent research in Beijing, China. And I have been one of two students in Wake Forest history to serve as both, the Student Body President and student member on the Board of Trustees.
Though my personal accomplishments are ok, leaving Wake Forest I will be most proud of the friendships that I have made and the memories I have shared with others. I will be extremely grateful that Wake Forest has taught me that I can do any and all things. And, most importantly, I can make the changes that I want to see in our community and country.
I guess one of the of the bad things about enjoying all that Wake has had to offer through a true liberal arts education, as I graduate, I have so many things I would like to do next year. However, I realize getting to this point would not be a possibility without your support.
So today I say thank you. Thanks for helping to create an environment where any student can attend Wake Forest and be successful. Thanks for inspiring us to want to help future students like ourselves. But most importantly, thank you for turning my dream of attending Wake Forest into a reality.