Meant to be a Seahawk

Today is my last day of classes here at UNCW. I did not actually think this day would ever come. For a while, I didn’t even know that I would be attending school at UNCW or in North Carolina at all. I transferred from Dallas, Texas as a Junior. When I mention that, almost everyone asks, “Why UNCW?” So I’ll go ahead and fill you in on how I got here.

Right after High School, I wanted so badly to attend Baylor University, a more expensive, private school in Texas. Shortly after orientation at BU, they notified me that they had promised too much scholarship money and they were going to have to decrease my scholarship. This was the first crazy, unexpected event in my life after High School. The thought of getting into an extreme amount of debt my first year frightened me to death. My father pleaded with me to attend community college for one or two years, and then he would do his best to send me anywhere I chose.

After a year or so at a community college outside of Dallas, my dad asked me, “You need to start thinking about where you’re going to transfer.” I was only joking and trying to ruffle his feathers when I replied, “What if I want to go to school all the way in North Carolina?” I did not know it then, but this sarcastic comment would change my life.

I began looking into UNCW, but it still did not feel like a legitimate option for my future. I only knew of Wilmington because of the movie and television industry – and I thought it was pretty. My parents never said no to sending me there, but I think they honestly felt like it was a phase I would snap out of after a few weeks.

One day in my mass communications course, we had a panel of women that work in the field of communication speak to us. Afterward, I went to thank them for coming. After speaking briefly with one woman, Keturi Beatty, I asked her where she received her undergraduate degree. She told me I had most likely never heard of it – it’s a school called UNC Wilmington. I could not believe it. That day she gave me her business card (she wrote “Go Seahawks!” on the back). I connected with her over the next few months, and she got me in contact with the one and only David Weber. Connecting with her was the next crazy turn my life took – because now UNCW felt like a real option.

I was able to convince my mom to bring me out to Wilmington to visit UNCW, and we both fell in love with the campus. I learned a great deal about the Communication Studies Department from Dr. Weber, and the rest is history.

UNCW and especially the COM Studies department means so much to me. I have learned to think, research, explore, work hard, and how to be a true team member. The COM department feels like one big giant family – that likes to talk a lot. My professors have given me the opportunities and the tools to succeed in my courses and in my experiences after graduation.  When friends ask if I have homework, I tell them no. I tell them I have things I need to get done, because I don’t see the work in my COM classes as homework or chores – they are opportunities to learn and create something I can be proud of.

Why do I love to tell that story in such detail? Because UNCW has changed my life in so many ways, and this time two years ago – I didn’t even know I would be here. Life can take so many crazy turns when you least expect it, but each and every one of them happens for a reason. Before even I knew it, I was meant to be a Seahawk. I will never tire of telling that story, because it helps me appreciate and value my experiences from UNCW that might not have happened without one special conversation with a fellow Seahawk all the way in Dallas, Texas.

Rachel Gracy

UNCW Class of 2014