A Love Letter to the Class of 2026 – The Cavalier Daily

Leaving home for the first time can be one of the scariest things you’ll ever do in your life. Or maybe it isn’t. For me, I wanted nothing more than to leave the small town I had lived in since the age of six and embark on my next big adventure. College was a beacon for me, an opportunity to start over, and I counted the days to hours to seconds in which I would meet my roommate in person and move into the Gibbons dorm.

What I hadn’t expected, however, was impostor syndrome that I was going to experience shortly after settling down. I was fully aware that I was a small fish in a big pond – the student body around me was made up of all extremely talented and intellectually gifted individuals, and I believed for a time that I had no no does not belong to their ranks. However, this belief could not be further from the truth – as I quickly learned, there is a place waiting for every student admitted to the University. The only hard part is finding it – but once you do, the experiences you will have will be transformative and make your time at the University beautifully memorable.

Believe me, I’ll be the first to tell you that all this “finding your place” isn’t easy. It unexpectedly requires resilience and optimism in ways you’ve never needed before. I personally scoured a number of student-run organizations, groups of friends, and even classes until I could find my niche. Although it’s a rather exhausting process, I wouldn’t change a single decision I’ve made so far – what I’ve learned about myself and what fulfills me has been so valuable for my development as a university student that I don’t. think I would be where I am today if not for this period of uncertainty. My best advice to you would be to embrace the chaos – college life will feel overwhelming when you first dive into it, but take it in stride and play the long game. I promise that every confident step into the unknown will eventually get you where you are meant to be.

Another thing I realized while being here is that every photograph of the University’s scenic landscape that you come across online is incapable of capturing the true essence of being a Wahoo. A captivating image of the lawn won’t give you the magical feeling of gathering on the lawn with your class for the first time at the opening of graduation. A portrait of the amphitheater won’t match the excitement of your first concert at the University or the serenity of sitting on its steps with your friends on a sunny day. A snapshot of John Paul Jones Arena or Scott Stadium can never describe the unforgettable game experience the University has built around its loyal and spirited fans. All of these photographs, yes, will allow you to conceive of what the University looks like at its best – but the real wonder of being a student here is the basic memories you will no doubt make in these places.

Now not every day will be bright and new. Eventually, you’ll acclimate to college life and be just another student here. You’ll experience fighting with your friends or other important people, you’ll experience the overwhelming feeling of failing your first exam, you’ll struggle to get your homework done on time, and you’ll miss home. I want you to know that these are all normal things – these are all indications that you are growing. Starting a new chapter in your life is scary, and finding your way in the world alone is one of the most difficult processes you will go through. However, there are so many people here who will be there, waiting with open arms, to catch you when you fall and help you climb back to success. The only thing they ask is that you know when you’re having trouble and ask them for help with an open mind. Everyone at the University wants you to thrive and is more than willing to help you do so – you have nothing to be afraid of when surrounded by this community.

Even when you think you’re alone here, you never really are. The University is ready to welcome you as one of its own and welcome you into its trusted community. He will always invite you to come as you are, flaws and all. I know that as a future sophomore, I can’t wait to meet you and show you all the love and sincere care I received upon entering this wonderful place. I am beyond thrilled to watch you grow into the people you are meant to be, contribute to the University in ways unimaginable, and change life on Grounds for the better.

Among you are our future leaders, advocates, innovators, dreamers, go-getters and revolutionaries. Being at this university is the best place to grow in these roles and change the world – although I may be a little biased. Whatever you do, whoever you become, just know that we are all ready and here to uplift, encourage and support you in all your endeavors. That’s the real magic of being a Hoo – the camaraderie that’s bestowed on you just by being here. It reminds you that you, now and forever, belong here.

As I said before, I look forward to meeting each of you, even though you may be taking my class’s place as a new class of baby Hoos. Welcoming you to my home and helping you navigate this new world will be my greatest honor. See you soon, class of 2026 – I have a funny feeling that you are going to love being here as much as I do.

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