Our university is one of those colleges that people from all over the country attend – Colorado, Oregon, California, Texas, the Midwest, the Northern New England states, and, of course, the south. We each have our own favorite football team that we take pride in and cheer for each week. We each have our own clique; whether you’re involved in Greek life, campus ministry, if you surf, or spend your time learning photography or studying film, you have it. You have your niche; you have your people. And those different groups, different peoples, they make up a body. We are all united by a common ground, a foundation. We are teal. We are the Seahawks. We find a shared meaning in that. It’s how we cultivate shared virtues that define and shape our community. We’ve grown our campus of yellow and teal over time through relationships and form a bond in those places.
With that I encourage you, whatever year you are, embrace the experience. Stop and look around. Take it in. Embrace the community of this university. This phase of life is special and sacred; you’re caught in the moments of “I can do anything, I’m so ready for the real world,” while still sometimes needing to hear your mom comfort you on the other side of the phone. We’re still kids and yet adults. We’re still learning and growing and embracing who we’re becoming.
So, listen to that band playing in the amphitheater because chances are they’re actually really good. Stop and laugh at Brother Ross (don’t lie, we’ve all done it), engage him in a debate. Paint the rock. Spend the night in the library because you didn’t begin to study for your test until the day before. Walk to class in a hurricane. Go to all of the athletic games and loudly cheer on the players. Take a picture with Sammy the Seahawk. Run through campus and down chancellors at night when the lamps are on. I guarantee it’s more breathtaking than you realize.
Go to the beach at 3:00 in the morning with your roommates and admire the stars. Write a letter and put it in the Wrightsville Beach Mailbox. Get Kilwins and eat it on the river walk. Form a relationship with your professors because they have more resources than you will when you graduate and if you’ve formed a relationship with them and push through their classes intently, they will be willing to help you come graduation.
UNCW is where you grow from that nervous freshman to the confident, empowered (yet still nervous) senior with graduation in the near future. Take pride in our school. Your school. Take pride in UNCW. Take pride in where you came from and where you had those life-changing, gut-wrenching, absolutely beautiful moments. When you leave this campus with your diploma, cap and gown, whether that’s in a semester or three and a half more years, teal will be engraved on your heart. The Seahawk emblem will be engrained in your mind and, love it or hate it, you will find yourself taking pride in UNCW because it’s where you became someone ready to take on the world.
-Kaity Bryant ’17