Reflections on the People of Wake Forest and Making a Difference
As a senior, I have had plenty of time to reflect and walk down memory lane. As I draw closer to the end of my undergraduate experience, I realize that my time at Wake Forest has been a remarkable journey, one full of learning, experimenting, and discovery. It has been a journey that I will always remember and one that I will always cherish because Wake Forest is where my heart is and it is where I belong.
From the first day that I arrived on campus, Wake Forest felt like home to me. The culture of the University and the cozy little village town that the Quad resembles reminds me of my hometown. I was raised in the small city of Gastonia, NC, where people are known for their southern hospitality and visible steeples that can be seen from every part of the city. Like the community at Wake Forest, my tight knit family has always kept me grounded and has always encouraged me to strive for the best even when it was challenge.
I never imagined that I would find that same sense of belonging when I came to college, because that is usually not a selling point for many universities, but at Wake Forest it is. When I roll the Quad with other students, faculty, staff, and even alumni after a win, I roll the Quad with people that I consider family. Like any parent would, President Hatch and other administrators have offered their assistance in helping students as they learn “not just how to make a living but how to live”*.
In the University’s toughest times — like the passing of our beloved Coach Prosser and visionary President Emeritus Hearn – we have comforted each other like family. We support each other through the good times and the bad and inspire one another to keep pressing onward even through the tears. We dream together and have all contributed to making our Deacon land even better than it was when we first arrived.
Our collective desire to preserve the spirit of Wake Forest has allowed us to dream bigger than we ever could have singularly. By just being here, I have dreamed big dreams for myself and for the University. Some of the greatest moments in my life have taken place in during my time here because of the opportunities that have been extended to me. When I wanted to expand my community service activities, Wake Forest provided me with the opportunity to do an international service trip to Kayamandi, South Africa, an experience that would change me and showed me how to put Pro Humanitate in action. As a Resident Adviser for 2 years, I have learned to serve others by assisting the “new kids on the block” as they adjusted to life on campus. And as any older sibling would, I have shown them the ropes and introduced them to my favorite traditions such as the Lovefeast and the Lighting of the Quad. I have been a mentor for multicultural students and worked hard to give back to the University as both a President”s Aide and as a sophomore vocation retreat facilitator.
I have been guided carefully in the ways of my academics. When I decided on sociology for a major, I was welcomed with open arms by the department and mentored by some of the greatest scholars in the field. They took time out from their research to show me all of the wonderful opportunities that were awaiting those with sociology degrees. This comforted me beyond belief, especially since most of my friends were still hoping to be pre-med. As sociology major, I have had the opportunity to be a research assistant and conduct my own independent study. I have excelled far beyond my own expectations because of the encouragement of those in the department and beyond.
My professors have become more than teachers to me, they have become mentors, friends and confidantes. They have challenged me both academically and personally, and I am a better person because of their presence in my life. But they aren’t the only ones who do this. One of the wonderful attributes of Wake Forest is knowing that they will seek the world’s greatest people to be a part of this family. Here you will find people who genuinely care and people who go above and beyond to remind you that you matter and that you are important.
The students here are one of a kind. They are curious, ambitious, and are servants at heart. On a grand scale, this can be seen through programs like Project Pumpkin, but it is the everyday contributions that students make to campus life that make the difference. The students care about each other and go to great lengths to show that. For example, when I was freshman, I remember being really sick to the point that I had to go to Student Health really late at night. As I struggled painfully down the stairs, a young lady asked me if I was okay and if I needed any help. I politely said that I would be okay, but she decided to help me anyway. She assisted me to Student Health and stayed with me overnight even though she had an 8am class the next morning. She was a stranger that night, but is my best friend today, and we have built a friendship that will last a lifetime. That is why I am convinced that it was not the academics or the grandeur of the campus that stole my heart, but the people and their commitment to helping each other.
As a member of this great family, I have learned the importance of giving back to the University and the community through time and service, not because I have to, but because that is part of the great legacy that has been passed down from those who graced these grounds before me. It is a part of my history, it is part of my heritage, and it is part of my legacy. I am proud to have Wake Forest as my alma mater, because with its name comes an unspoken understanding that it is a place of knowledge, influence, and a beacon of light that draws great people. Because of the generosity of others, I have become a part of this vibrant and diverse community, one that upholds values centered on family, friendship, and faith. I hope that alumni and friends of the University will continue to help students like me find their home in Wake Forest and that they will always feel like part of the family.
* — quote from President Hatch’s inauguration speech in 2005.