“I want you to take everything you think you know about the world and throw it out the window.”
Or at least, I think that’s what one of my professors told me to do.
College has proven to be a roller coaster, one that has many flips and dips to ensure a chaotic ride. But, chaos and fun often go hand-in-hand, which truly shakes up ordinary life.
I still remember my first day of class, a rather warm and sunny day on August 25, 2018. A furrowed brow and a stuffed backpack accompanied me as a stepped foot on a small, coastal Virginia university. To be overwhelmed would be the understatement of my life. College can be scary, I will not lie or sugarcoat. Being independent and motivating yourself to attend class everyday is no small feat.
The first thing I learned during my time at VWU is to enjoy every moment you can. From losing a year and a half of school to COVID-19 and personal issues clouding my life, my college years were far from perfect. However, I learned to savor and reflect on the little things in life. Dunkin’ runs with Kara, Survivor nights with Lindsay and Ticket to Ride with Aly are just some of the fond memories I have from my undergraduate years.
I was a headstrong and confident student that was unafraid to take on new challenges. These included joining the swim team, taking on a fraternity and being involved with student government and honor societies. I also had two on-campus positions with Enrollment and Residence Life. Each of these experiences left me with positive memories and developed me into a stronger student and person.
However, I soon realized that I was in over my head. Having to strategize and prioritize my time around my many commitments was causing me much strain. In addition, I was sacrificing friendships and relations to juggle all of these experiences. I stayed on for as long as I could; but eventually, I had to let go of all of my commitments that I had made. This devastated me and made me wonder what my true purpose in college would be.
Interestingly, I found myself falling head over heels for the world of academia and my major, history. I have repeatedly been told that if you do not study STEM (science, technology, engineering or math), then I would be wasting my academic career. However, this proved to not be the case.
History, that forsaken subject that everyone loves to disregard. Ironically, history called my name and found a home in me. As one of two history majors at the time in the Batten Honors College, the odds were stacked against me. This challenge intrigued me and urged me to work harder and inform everyone of the wonders of history. As well, I will be one of the first graduates to minor in Africana Studies, which is a big feat at a predominantly white institution. All of this led to me internalizing and learning vast areas of content to share in my courses.
In addition, this taught me valuable lessons, such as don’t be afraid to try new things and change what you need to if they are not working. College has taught me not everything is permanent, and times of change lead to high rates of productivity. I learned to try new things, including being an opinion editor for the Marlin Chronicle!
My freshmen study away course truly put my life on pause and changed the trajectory of my future. I still remember boarding my first flight to Haines, Alaska as a naive and inexperienced freshman. Two weeks in the wilderness and camping with my best friends shaped into being one of the most memorable experiences at Virginia Wesleyan.
Travel shaped my academic path and restructured how I view the world. This was prominent during my January course to Berlin, Germany in 2020. I jumped at the opportunity to travel to Berlin and learn about the rich history present in this global city. The ability to walk through the Brandenburg Gate and visit Charlottenburg Palace? I felt like Peter Parker in his cross-country trip throughout Europe in “Spiderman: Far From Home.”
From late night rounds of Super Smash Bros. to manic Cookout runs, my college life was far from boring. Along the way, I met my friends and established bonds with individuals that would develop into friendships.
As many who may or may not know me, I am not your stereotypical person. I don’t fit into a bubble and avoid labels that would seek to harm me. With this, at Virginia Wesleyan, you are encouraged to express yourself. You probably have seen me traverse our small school. That dude wearing a Taylor Swift cardigan, Converse High-Tops and Kanken backpack is kind of hard to miss.
As I sit here at my favorite coffee shop, Fairgrounds, and reflect on my time at Virginia Wesleyan, I am filled with many memories and longing to stay in the present. However, I know the next chapters in my life will prove to be a challenge that I am excited to overcome.
The memories you will have during college will stay and resonate with you for years to come. I remember my first Tides baseball game with the Batten Honors College as a freshmen. Now, as I return from my last game as a senior, I feel like my time at VWU has come full circle. Take these opportunities and live in the moment with your friends and classmates.
One could say we were happy, free, confused and lonely in the best way, or whatever Taylor Swift would say.
College has been the best years of my life and I wouldn’t change any of the experiences I have had. Enjoy your time with your friends and always remember… It’s a great day to be a Marlin.
Here’s to us, Class of 2022.
By Grant Morgan