My college experience at UNCW was not what I originally expected. When I started my college journey as a freshman in the fall of 2017, I had an entirely different view on what college was and had no idea just how much I would grow and change throughout my time at UNCW. My four years here have not been easy to say the least. While dealing with multiple hurricanes and a global pandemic, I haven’t given up and will continue to persevere through my last semester at UNCW. If you would have asked me 4 years ago where I see myself after graduation, I would have said that I aspired to be a set designer and work in Hollywood. That is no longer the case. As I look forward to next semester and graduating this spring, I am hopeful to step out into the event planning field and develop my skills through the last of my IMC classes as an undergrad. What caused me to completely change my career path you ask? I can trace it back to two moments during my freshman year that defined me as a Seahawk, joining the Association for Campus Entertainment (ACE), and studying abroad with the Communication Studies Department in Italy.
My Time with ACE
When I first arrived at UNCW, I wanted to find ways that I could get involved on campus and meet new people. I found out about ACE when I attended the Involvement Fair that UNCW hosts every fall. I decided to join ACE that same semester and it began to open my eyes to new passions that I didn’t realize I had. I made a few lifelong friendships through ACE and found out that I enjoyed being involved with campus activities by planning events for people to enjoy. I was able to show my creative side and felt, for the first time, that this is where I belonged. I went on to join the executive board my sophomore year as the Activities Chair for ACE. I loved the feeling of creating community, a place where students could come meet new people and have fun on campus. It was this club that helped me realize my talent for event planning and guided me to my new path for the rest of my time as a Seahawk. As a result of my involvement with ACE, I was also able to make connections with other on-campus departments leading to my current position as the Vice President of Programming for the Residence Hall Association. Although the coronavirus pandemic has presented me with many challenges in this role, I feel more prepared now than ever to tackle any challenges that may come my way in my future career.
Studying Abroad with the COM Department
During a presentation in my UNI class freshman year, I learned about the study abroad programs and opportunities available. There was one particular program that stuck out to me, an opportunity to study abroad with the Communication Studies Department during spring break. I have always wanted to travel abroad to Europe and this trip to Italy was my first time traveling internationally. This trip was a very formative experience for a number of reasons. First, it sparked my love of traveling and pursuing further study abroad opportunities throughout my time at UNCW. Up until the coronavirus pandemic hit, I was able to go on two study abroad trips during my freshman and sophomore years at UNCW. Second, studying abroad with the Communication Studies Department introduced me to students in the communication studies major during my freshman year and helped me discover that this major was a good fit for me. As a timid freshman, I remember thinking that majoring in communication studies was intimidating and I would never be comfortable with public speaking. However, after getting to know some people in the department on this trip, I recognized that communication studies was not only the right major for me, but a good background to have for my future career as well.
In conclusion, as I reflect on my time here at UNCW, I would not change a single moment of it. It is amazing how just a few small decisions shaped my college career and the direction my life is moving. If I had to do things all over again, I would choose to attend UNCW in a heartbeat. I found who I wanted to be and created a second home here in Wilmington. No matter where life and my experiences lead me, I will always be a UNCW Seahawk. Wings Up!
Written by: Holly Pearce
You did it right. I laughed at “timid freshmen” . . . . yes, but also a BRAVE freshmen to sign up and go with a bunch of strangers to Italy. Truth is most of us didn’t know each other, but still, it was an impressive display of confidence and who knew it would be our last trip to Italy (or anywhere) for at least these last two years! Be brave people!