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Editor: students should embrace change

cwhitten@dailyhelmsman.com

Published: Friday, August 31, 2012

Updated: Tuesday, November 20, 2012 21:11

whittenmug

Christopher Whitten

Walking onto campus earlier this week I was greeted by two women armed with campus maps and welcoming smiles who asked if I needed help and if I knew where I was going.

I smiled and politely answered, “No,” then “yes,” respectively. That’s when it hit me.  As cliché as it sounds, the University of Memphis has become a home to me.

Looking back to my freshman year, I remember the feelings I had. I had my schedule printed out and in the front page of my notebook. I tried so hard not to stand out. I just wanted to blend in with everyone else.

But I didn’t. Being a nontraditional student at 27 years old has its advantages but my salt-and-peppered hair gave away the extra years (advantage?) I may have had on some of my peers.

I was so excited to return to college – I had taken a sabbatical after fall 2003 to work full-time and again in the spring of 2006 when I realized I still wasn’t ready.

But in 2011, I laced up my shoes and prepared for the long road ahead. I called home after every class that first week – ranting about my professor who assigned homework on the first day or sharing a story of how I went to the wrong class and sat through 20 minutes before realizing it.

But the U of M has changed over my tenure here. There are directional signs pointing students toward their buildings and opening week has aides to guide students around campus or to hand out extra copies of the map they may have left at home.

A girl asked me yesterday if I knew where something was.

“Yeah,” I told her. “I know where everything is.”

Looking back to my nearly completed academic career, I feel confident I can succeed and am ready to take on the world, as I hope all future alumni may.

But there’s one thing I wish I had known when I was a freshman, or more so just been aware of: everything was going to change – my group of friends, my attitude towards college and even my major (a few times), and most of all the University. The school I feared for so long would become my home.

So take it from someone who’s done this a time or two: brace for change.

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