As the 2018-2019 academic year kicks off, we can’t help but reflect on why we do what we do. Junior Mattie Clemmons put our feelings into words in the following blog post which she wrote as a reflection on her experience as a Trevecca student and peer mentor in our first-year program, LINK. You can read more of Mattie’s posts at her blog, meclemmons.wordpress.com.
Over the past week, I have had the opportunity to prepare our university campus for a group of incoming freshmen. I was required to do a large portion of this training last year as an RA, but this year I got to experience it in a different leadership capacity.
This year I traded in my Georgia Hall master key for a tie-dyed bandana.
Instead of serving my campus community as a Resident Assistant this year, I am one of about 35 “Peer Mentors” on campus who help lead a program called “LINK.” Each incoming freshman is placed in a color-coded group that is led by one or two “Peer Mentors” (students like me) and a “Mentor” (faculty, staff, or other adults who are somehow related to the university). Our goal is to help new students acclimate to college life academically, socially, and spiritually, which we do by leading a three-hour class over the course of the semester and participating in team-building activities before classes begin.
Yesterday, we welcomed our new freshmen on campus in the best way Trevecca knows how: by building and racing boats made solely of cardboard and duct tape across a lake together.
Tomorrow, we will serve together by participating in various service projects around Nashville and on our campus.
But today, we rest and reflect.
Today I am reminded of how I felt just two years ago as a new freshman on Trevecca’s campus. When I got here, I didn’t know a single person other than my roommate, whom I had only spoken to online. I was nervous and felt out of place. I was terrified I would have no one to sit with in the cafeteria. What if I did the wrong thing, went to the wrong class, or just couldn’t make friends?
Two years ago, I walked through what seemed like an ocean full of noisy upperclassmen to get to one of my first orientation sessions at Trevecca. I didn’t know how to react, and honestly, I hated the attention. I asked myself, Why can’t we just walk in quietly and sit down? Why all the fuss? Why do we have to do this?
On Thursday of last week, I became one of those “noisy upperclassmen” who clapped and cheered as new students went into an orientation session. Watching their faces—some nervous and embarrassed, some excited and ready, made me think back to my own freshman orientation and move-in day, and I couldn’t help but get a little emotional. Two years ago I would have never imagined that I would be one of the people acting crazy to welcome new students onto campus; I never thought I would feel so “at home” in this place.
Over the course of my training this week, I’ve come to realize that there’s a reason for the fuss. There’s a reason student leaders move to campus weeks before classes start for exhausting, hour-long training sessions. There’s a reason faculty and staff put in the time and the energy outside of normal “office hours” and on the weekends leading up to move-in day. And there’s a reason we clap and cheer and act a little crazy for Welcome Week, too.
New students, the reason we do all of this is because we love you, we see you, and we are here with you. You are worth the “fuss,” not because we need another seat filled in a classroom or because we need one more student to reach a new enrollment record.
No, you are worth the “fuss” because we want you here, in this community. We want to be a part of your story; we want to share this life with you.
So welcome, new students. We’re glad you’re here. Whether you prefer noisy, cardboard-boat building days or days of rest and reflection, thanks for letting us be a part of your journey in this season.