I commuted all four years as a Wesleyan undergrad, and I never felt like I missed a beat. I launched two new ministries, took up numerous leadership positions, joined honor societies and attended on-campus and off-campus events. And here I am finishing my time as an opinions editor for the Marlin Chronicle.
Of course, there were times (particularly during the COVID-19 semesters) when I wished I could be somewhere on a moment’s notice. I missed visiting friends inside their dorms and going on spontaneous adventures, but the COVID-19 semesters were the busiest times for me as a student ministry leader. I felt called to bring hope and light onto campus, so I was empowered to dedicate most of my free time to student ministry.
If I were to give one piece of campus-life advice to a first-year or to any student who is ready for a change in rhythm, I would say to intentionally seize opportunities. I think this applies to any resident or commuter.
It took effort driving onto campus after the sun had already set. I just wanted to get into my PJs and watch T.V. instead of attending a social event. Certainly, there were times when I chose to stay home, but I was always intentional with my decision. If I was choosing to stay home out of laziness or fear, I would reanalyze my choices and remember that these four years don’t last a lifetime. With that mindset, I often found myself jumping in the car on a two-minute notice.
I am thankful to my first-year self for starting off my college experience with intentionality by choosing to savor every moment, because I now have a whole mental box of unforgettable memories ranging from study dates with friends, to Wednesday night WILD events, to short weekend retreats, all the way to a week-long study away course in Oxford, England!
While I was having my fun with extracurricular activities, I was intentional about maintaining balance. At times, balance can be difficult. I’ve seen students scramble to catch up with their assignments, and I’ve seen students miss an opportunity to recharge and take a break from schoolwork. I get it. I myself have teetered into one category or another during different times in my school career, but I’ve tried my darndest to not get stuck there. I think that is key to maintaining a healthy balance.
Here’s some motivation for you today: Don’t believe the lie that where you’re at is where you’re stuck. It takes drive to get unstuck, but if you have even the slightest inkling to push forward, then use that as fuel for the fire, and you’ll be on your way to accomplishing great things.
If I were to give one piece of academic advice, I would say to make connections in your classes—no matter how uninteresting you find them—to your field of study and your interests. As an English secondary education major, I approached art history class differently than my fellow art major, but I can assure you that we both learned something.
As a high schooler, I was far from being a history buff. But in college when I took art history to satisfy a Gen-Ed requirement, I discovered a new interest. I was in awe of how art can be used to spark such rich analysis and discussion. After making those interdisciplinary connections, my analytical skills grew richer, and I was able to transfer that knowledge I had gained from art history into my English, communications and religious studies classes. I even took a few more art history classes as extracurriculars. Additionally, with my career in mind, I became a better teacher. I now know how to use visual media to spark analysis among my future students.
I would say goodbye, but I won’t be going very far. In fact, I’ll be a few houses shorter of a commute, because this summer I will be marrying my fiancé who happens to be my neighbor! Also, you might run into me on campus during the fall semester, as I will be continuing my commute to Virginia Wesleyan for their MAEd post-graduate program. I look forward to making more memories with you!
By Brooke Erickson