An open letter to UNCW…

I spent my whole life dreaming of going to NC State, I wanted to be a veterinarian. During my senior year of high school when it came time for decisions to go out, I got deferred from my dream school. At the moment I was extremely devastated, my plans were not going accordingly but at the same time, God had other plans for me. Shortly after receiving my deferred notification from NC State, I got my acceptance letter to UNCW and that’s where it all began.

UNCW was my second choice but looking back on it, it’s been the best choice. My time here at UNCW has been nothing short of interesting, from hurricanes and worldwide pandemics to becoming an RA on campus. My freshman year I knew I was where I was supposed to be because of the friends I met and the experiences I had gained. Sophomore year felt the exact opposite, my friends made new friends and I thought I was going to change my career path and have to transfer schools, it was a mess. However, junior year I applied and was given the offer as a Resident Assistant on campus which changed my life. The people I met, the lessons I learned, the life experience I gained, and the responsibility I held is something I will never forget.

I am a first generation student and the baby of the family, I had no clue what I was doing when I got to college. I just felt it was necessary to go with the motions and follow along with everyone else, but I began to discover that most people were like me – didn’t know what they wanted to do. My whole life I wanted to be a veterinarian, but as I went through my years of high school I realized how bad at science and math I was. So it was up to me to decide on what I wanted to do as a career, or so I thought. I thought I was alone. I started my journey in the Communication Studies department my freshman year with COM 101 – Public Speaking. The UNCW Communication Studies department has some of the most caring professors I have ever seen. I grew up in a small town and my high school teachers cared about our success, but college seemed so big to me that I thought we’d be treated like numbers. The COM professors have been nothing but awesome. They genuinely have cared about my success and have given me the tools necessary to do what I want to do. They have pushed me to be a better version of myself and to get out of my comfort zone. The advice they have given me and the questions they have helped me answer has been such a huge help for my personal and professional development.

Now going back to the idea that my four years here at UNCW have been nothing short of interesting. I remember my freshman year when hurricane Matthew rolled through and classes were canceled for a day or two. Then my sophomore year there was a “snowstorm” that caused us to miss a week of classes. Junior year was hurricane Florence and man that was quite the adventure. This was my first year as an RA and we had to do a campus wide evacuation to get the students out as quickly and safely as possible to beat the storm. The uncertainty of not knowing what was happening to campus or when we’d be allowed to return had all of us going crazy. I had a fairly smooth transition when coming back to campus after Florence, it wasn’t hard for me to get back into the swing of things besides all of the maintenance that was going on around campus. The devastation that struck people who had countless hours of research in Dobo Hall, the residents who lived in the University Apartments, the homes in Wilmington that got destroyed, it was just heartbreaking to see. But the comradery of the people of Wilmington was so overwhelming, everyone banded together to recover. Then senior year rolled around and Hurricane Dorian struck meaning another mandatory evacuation. This time around the University was a bit more prepared about updates and the “next steps” of what to do. But then the unexpected… Covid19, a worldwide pandemic. This is something that no one could have predicted and that no one is even sure how to handle, yet here we are at our own homes finishing out our year online. All I’m going to say about that is that there’s a reason that I didn’t sign up for 4-5 college courses online.

With Covid19, graduation has been postponed, classes are online, campus is closed, my hometown is in lockdown and I can’t  sneeze in public without getting a death stare. I have lost the opportunity to live out my last year of college, to get to the point we have worked so hard for the past three years. I won’t get my senior experiences. I had to leave my friends earlier than I had planned for. I was let go from my RA position because we were no longer needed. It’s just a whole lot of “new” in a very strange time.

Despite these challenges though, I will always be proud to be a Seahawk. The pros outweigh the cons in every aspect of all four years during my time at UNCW. If I could talk to myself as a senior in high school, I would’ve said not to worry about NC State, not to have been so closed minded because it was about to be some of the best four years of your life. I will always bleed teal and always have my wings up.


Casey Buchanan, UNCW COM Class of Spring 2020