Hollie Ivey, JSU Graduate
It was a Wednesday. I was both excited and overwhelmed. Eager and completely mortified. I was a freshman. And for my very first class that day, on my very first day as a student, I had my introduction class for my major.
I made a decision during my drive to campus that day. “This is your fresh start. This is where you will become the person you want to be – new faces, new friends, new classes, new you.”
I walked into that class of 70 students, sat down, listened to the syllabus being read, and left once class was dismissed. I did this for my other classes that day, too. And every other day for that semester.
I barely talked. I spent time alone studying on the quad under one of the many large trees, or in a remote corner of the library enjoying a cup of coffee from Java Jolt. I would walk around campus taking in the beauty of JSU during my four-hour break because I was a commuter and didn’t want to make the trek home between classes. I ran on the Ladiga Trail and pushed myself into the best health I had been in years.
I wasn’t involved in clubs or campus groups. I didn’t make any new friends. But I absolutely loved that semester and I wouldn’t change a single thing about it. That semester I found joy in who I was. I grew closer to myself and stronger in my walk with Christ.
Fast forward to the next year and the years after, and things changed. I made friends. My department was small, so I was able to be in the same classes, with the same people, semester after semester, up until graduation. Professors learned my name, my cat’s name, my dreams and my passions and my aspirations. They learned who I was, and not just my student number.
I was involved in multiple organizations, in some of which I eventually took on leadership rolls. I organized study groups. I looked forward to campus events. And I loved it, too.
What changed? Nothing really. Both of those people were and still are me. I just took my college career into my own hands and enjoyed it as I wanted.
During freshman orientation they advised being as involved as possible. Which is great for some. For me, it wasn’t at that time. Later on, however, I would be following that very same advice.
I am thankful for my time at Jacksonville. I’m thankful for the classes, career preparation, networking and skills gained. I’m more thankful for the friendships it gave me, the experiences it offered me, the memories that were made during that time and the family that was gained (looking at you Communication and Spanish Departments).
Did I go about those four years in the typical way? Probably not. But that’s because there isn’t a typical way. College is about you and what you make it. Want to be involved from day one and become one of the very familiar faces on campus? Do it. Want to enjoy a small group of friends and bask in the sun in between class under one of the few remaining trees on campus? Do it.
But whatever your decision is – enjoy it. I always thought those years as a student would feel like forever and that I would have plenty of time to appreciate the joys of Jacksonville. But here I sit, typing this, my diploma on a shelf in my room, a graduate of the Spring of 2018. And what I wouldn’t give to be back in my freshman or sophomore year. Not to redo it, but to enjoy it all over again.
So to JSU, thank you. To incoming freshman, don’t take it for granted.