Life is a Highway

Emoji6I remember my first trip to the Wilmington area as a younger child embarking on a family vacation to Wrightsville Beach. My older sister was starting high school and talked my parents into touring the UNCW campus. The beautiful campus and scenery left quite the impression on my sister; three years later I was back in Wilmington with my sister for her freshman orientation. It was 2006 and I was 13 years old with no idea that I would be graduating from this very same school nine years later.

It was never in my plans to go here. I lived, ate, and breathed football since I was 5 years old- there was no way I was going to UNCW! But I was wrong. While all of my high school classmates were beginning to tour campuses seeking their next step on the educational ladder, I was taking official visits, sending out highlight tapes, and talking with a plethora of college football coaches seeking the next step on my athletic journey. I took the SAT and got Emoji7a score good enough to merit full athletic scholarships from the schools interested in me. My parents, always pushing me, signed me up for an SAT class to help improve my score “just in case something happens”. I took the class as a joke, received the same score on the SAT, and turned my back on academic progress because I thought I had my next four years lined up. Well, as always, my parents were right- something happened.

I fractured my left wrist and tore every ligament my senior year under the Friday night lights against our rival. I never told the coaches the severity of my injury so that I Emoji4could continue to play and wore a ‘club’ on my wrist for my final five games. Once the season was over, it was time to handle my injury and proceed to rehabilitation so I could be well prepared for my first collegiate season. Unfortunately, after dozens of doctor and surgeon visits, I found out that there was only one surgery to possibly correct my wrist which involved a major tendon. Unfortunately again, 75% of people in the world have that tendon, and I fell into the 25% of people that do not. I felt as if the rug had just been pulled under my feet.

With teary eyes, telling every coach interested in me that I would never be medically cleared to play football, I had no answer to what I was going to do next. It was already late into my senior year and every school that I Emoji5applied to was on the basis of playing football, except one. In the whirlwind of college recruiting, I never realized that I had actually applied to UNCW months prior as a potential backup plan, something I can thank my advisor and parents for making me do. I did not have much to go by; I chose UNCW as my backup because my sister went here and because there was no football team. I knew if I was not going to be playing football, I did not want to be around it.

After four and a half years at this school, I have come to embrace the phrase: “Everything happens for a reason.” I started my journey at emoji8UNCW as a lost individual seeking my place in a new environment. I didn’t know what it was like to not be on a nutrition plan, to not have to work out every day, to not study film. I had to learn what it was like to embrace the identity as a student and not as an athlete; and to put it lightly, I struggled. I skipped class all the time; I gained weight; I turned my back on things that used to bring me joy; I flushed a healthy relationship down the drain.

EmojiI found myself in a “mid-college crisis” halfway through my junior year. My whole life I had dreams of being a lawyer. However, my choice of being a political science major was driving me to the brink of insanity and I struggled to grasp many concepts. How was I struggling academically? My dad had me doing long division before my first day of kindergarten; I was the Accelerated Reader winner every year in grammar school; I was the spelling bee winner every year in middle school; I excelled taking all Honors and AP classes in high school; I was grounded if I ever made anything lower than an A my whole life (yes, I have a strict dad); I could not fathom how my GPA was under a 3.0!

I sought a change in my educational experience and wanted to take classes that I both enjoyed and challenged me academically to strive for greatness. The Communication Studies department enabled me to do this. The reason I began to take my studies serious and the reason that I am now preparing to begin graduate school in the Fall of 2016 is because I switched to being a communication studies major. The competitiveness I learned from the gridiron transitioned to competitiveness in the classroom. I wanted to excel in COM 200 and have the best possible RP1 and RP2; I wanted to have the best conspiracy theory paper in Rhetorical Theory; I wanted to have the best group in Advertising; I strived for the best GPA possible; I stopped being another college student trying to make it through a class and grasped the initiative to learn. I could not be more thankful for my time here at UNCW and as a student within the Communication Studies department. I appreciate every teacher within the department that I have taken a class with, how they pushed me to educate myself while showing me the guidelines to do it, and the abundance of post-grad opportunities this major offers, although I am seeking a Master of BusinPeaceess Administration degree. College was truly a learning opportunity for life. I’ve embraced the city of Wilmington, love all of the close friends I have made, and am so excited for the next step in my life. I don’t know where I’ll be in four and a half years, but I will always cherish my four and a half years here.

Stay Classy Seahawks

Griffin Weidele

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14 thoughts on “Life is a Highway

  1. Life is Highway brother I completely agree. I was supposed to transfer to Wilmington last fall but i tore every ligament in my right knee at Defy Gravity the trampoline park. I was going to play soccer here and with my injury it would never happen. I applied the following fall and got accepted. The time i spent healing allowed me to get amazing grades and get accepted based off of my academics and not my ability to play soccer. Everything truly happens for a reason. Now that i have been here a semester i have joined a band and found a love for marketing. Now i have another opportunity to do what i love and i get to do it at my favorite school; UNCW.

  2. What a compelling story. I actually am a transfer student that was playing sports my freshman year at a different college and came here with no major in mind and fell in love with the communication studies program here at UNCW.

  3. Griffin,
    It is weird how our parents always know whats best. I have a very similar story as to choosing my major as Communication Studies because I always thought I wanted to major in Marketing, so I assumed I needed to major in Business. Boy was I wrong. I have found where I need to be and also am very competitive when it comes to all of my COM classes because I understand what it takes to be good at what we do! Congrats on graduating!!

  4. Reading your article puts me at ease. I recently changed my major from Elementary Education to Communication Studies and have felt more at home than ever since the change. I felt confused and as though I was an outsider when I was trying to pursue my teaching career and now I feel that so many more doors are opened to me. I still am unsure which path I personally want to go down with my COM major, but I must say that I am looking forward to the future. The future may be unknown, but to me, that is the fun part! Congratulations!

  5. I played lacrosse my entire life and would have never imagined going to a school without a lacrosse team. Growing up where I did everyone went on to play college lacrosse. After a year of playing collegiately I realized it wasnt for me anymore and followed my true passions and transferred to UNCW. Have never looked back since. It was great hearing a similar story. Congrats

  6. I can’t imagine having so many of my life plans and expectations yanked out from under me so suddenly. That being said, adversity can build character. My personal experiences with COM classes so far have been challenging, and have really tested my abilities. I don’t think I could have met this level of rigor in any other class at any other university.

  7. Your post really caught my eye right off the bat. Your genuine and heart felt tone really drew me in and I wanted to read more. Your perserverance is much respected after not being able to play sports in college and not following your dreams of becoming a lawyer. I can feel your pain though. I’ve had dreams of becoming something that is almost impossible to reach, at least in my mind. Like yourself, I too had a “mid-college crisis,” I started to realize that I might not be as good of a person that my parents made me out to be. I also gained weight, struggled academically, and overall really struggled mentally. But I know one thing, I became such a stronger person! By the looks of it, you have also. With maturing comes a stronger mindset, and a drive to want to succeed more. You hit it on the nail when you said, “college was truly a learning opportunity,” because it is in college where you get lost, but soon enough you find yourself.

    Loved your post, very relatable. Thanks for sharing.

  8. It is crazy to think that one little thing can change the future you had set out for yourself. When I was growing up I always thought I would go to school to play soccer. I was admit about it and applied to schools that I knew I could play soccer at. My senior year I went to get my physical and they wouldn’t pass me because of a heart murmur. It then turned into heart problems and I haven’t been able to play soccer since. It’s crazy that something you didn’t realize was happening can change your entire life! I’m glad you became a communication studies major and good luck with your future endeavors.

  9. Wow. This blog post is probably my favorite one yet! I love this story as it is very relatable for many people. Although I am not a star football player (never have been, never will be), UNCW was not my top choice in schools for many reasons. But when I got here I loved it! I broke my ankle sophomore year, which really took me out of the social scene. I couldn’t go to the beach with friends or go to sorority functions. I have never been extremely academically inclined, but when I broke my ankle, I was forced to focus solely on school and close friends. Although it was tough, doing this really set me up to have a successful academic career for the remainder of college. I got into great study habits, became close with professors, and learned how to be happy on my own. The teachers here really do care about each and every student and want us to strive to be the best WE can be. Thanks for sharing your story! Love the emojis!

  10. Thanks for sharing your story, I can relate to your experiences in many ways! I too followed in my sibling’s footsteps by attending UNCW, I often wonder how many people share this trait! I was also an athlete in high-school, and sustained a pretty serious injury. After my plans for college changed, I ended up learning to focus more on my studies. It is reassuring to hear that others share my competitive tendencies when it comes to things like RP1 and 2, and other COM projects! Congrats on your upcoming graduation, and good luck in your Graduate experience!

  11. It’s truly inspiring how you came back from all of that. I went through something very similar and that’s how I ended up transferring to UNCW. All of the blog posts made by this IMC has helped me learn a lot about the Communication Studies department.

    Best of luck!

  12. Hey Griffin!
    Awesome post. I love your story! I too struggled with decisions through college, especially when it came to choosing what I wanted to do in the future. I am so glad that I found the Communication Studies Department at UNCW. It truly changed my path.

  13. Really enjoyed this blog post being an athlete myself. I relate to many of your points in this blog such as being competitive in the classroom because of training in my sport. Good luck in the future!

  14. What brought me to Wilmington was the coast, the beaches and the surf. As a kid I went to camp in the mountains of North Carolina and so it made me want to explore more parts North Carolina like the coast. I’m from the US Virgin Islands and so I felt more at home on the beach. I love UNCW and would never go any where else! #DubLove

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