I started the applications for Teach for America and graduate school just this week. I am beginning my senior year at Warren Wilson in two weeks. As I look forward into this year, I cannot help but look back at how this whole amazing journey started with a letter four and a half years ago.
I can still remember the day I got my first information packet from Warren Wilson. I had been searching fruitlessly for the right college for months. No matter what college search site I used, all my searches came up empty. When I got the envelope from Wilson, I did what I did with all college mailings; I tore it open and glanced at the first page, prepared to throw it into the recycling. Instead, I burst into tears; I had finally found my school. All I had to read was “work program. . .service requirement. . .working farm” to know it was perfect. I visited on my 17th birthday, applied early decision, was accepted, and arrived in August of 2007. From the beginning, I loved Warren Wilson despite the fact that I lived in Sunderland next to one of the loudest residents in the dorm, and I worked on dining, two things many incoming students may dread. By the end of the year, I had managed to accumulate 97 service hours, learned to drum, attended every contra dance except one, avoided getting the flu when it ran through Sunderland, started singing (a lifelong dream), went to yoga twice a week every week, completed training to become an advocate for Our VOICE, the Asheville rape crisis center, and declared a History major with a Gender and Women's Studies minor. It was, without a doubt, one of the best years of my life.
When we let out for summer, I counted the days until I would be back at Wilson with my friends, in a new dorm, Ballfield B, and on my new crew, RISE Project (www.warren-wilson.edu/~rise). I re-declared my major as Gender and Women's studies with a History minor and then added a second minor in Music. By the time summer arrived, I was already counting down the days until I would be back at Wilson for my junior year. When I got back home to New Mexico, I realized something had changed. In the past, the trip to New Mexico was a trip home. That summer, the trip to New Mexico was a visit home. Warren Wilson had become my real home, a place where I had built a family of amazing, strong, and wonderful friends, had a job, and had established myself as part of the community.
Back at Wilson that fall, I face the most stressful year to date. I was returning to school after a lot of drama at home during the summer. I needed time to process and recover but school was in full swing before I really got the chance. My high stress made it hard at times to function and when I came down with mono, the situation did not improve. I made it through the fall semester still in good academic standing but completely exhausted. Spring semester, I decided to take both the capstone (thesis) classes – Feminist Thought and Gender and Social Change – for my Gender Studies major. After turning in my two 21 page papers which completed those classes, there was nothing I wanted more than for the year to end. Academia seemed to be getting the best of me. I began to worry that the dreaded senioritis had arrived a year early and I might have burnt myself out for my senior year which I had been looking forward to.
My dread evaporated about half way through the summer, turning into overwhelming excitement to see my friends again, move back to my old room, sing with the college chorale, work on my old crew (RISE), and try to squeeze in as many service hours as I can manage even though I don't technically need them. It is strange getting to the place in school where I am finishing things. It's both happy and sad to realize that fall semester I will be taking my final gender studies course, my final general education course, and my final elective for my music minor. Come spring, I will be preparing for my senior solo voice recital and sorting through my various belongings to decide which ones are going with me wherever I go next. Finally, I will be walking across the stage to receive my diploma. It is surreal, wonderful, and sad. I cannot believe my time here has passed so fast. Of course it hasn't always been an easy or fun process but on this side of things, it is much easier to see the good in everything I have learned while at Wilson. Attending Wilson has been and I know will continue to be a gift which informs every action in my life. In the end, what can I say but, thank you to everyone who has made this experience what it is.