This morning after I dropped my children off at school, I took a road I've been down many times before. It's a straight shot for a few miles before traffic builds up at the light where I turn. Same old, same old. But today, the traffic snarl caused me to pause by a street I'd barely noticed before.
The road, shaded by thick-trunked trees, curved invitingly into a neighborhood on my right. My hands twitched on the wheel. I wanted to see where it led. There's something so tantalizing about an unexplored path.
In some ways, college students are lucky. There are so many roads stretched out before them, so many dreams they can pursue. Do you want to be a teacher? An entrepreneur? A musician? Do you want to go overseas? Work in a lab? Join the Peace Corps?
Some students, like freshman Juan Collazo, come in with a clear direction. Juan wants to become a doctor. He was born with a cleft lip and a cleft palate, as well as a host of life-threatening issues. His parents made the difficult decision to leave their home country of Mexico to pursue medical treatment in North Carolina. They became permanent residents and have been here ever since.
If it weren't for this country, I wouldn't be alive, he said when we met for coffee one afternoon. I want to give back so stories like mine can be repeated.
With his passion, I know he will take all that UNCG has to offer and go on to do amazing things.
And then there are students like Nicole Rotundo, who find their way as they go. Nicole, a UNCG student supported by the Beyond Academics program, is preparing to graduate from UNCG in May.
This fall she emailed me, saying she hopes to become a writer and sent me a few short essays about the people around her. One is about her boyfriend; another is about a UNCG student who served as her CCS (campus and community support); still others are about UNCG friends.
I love the honesty of her writing and the glimpses these essays give of her world. I wonder if, when she came to UNCG, she had any inkling where the program would take her.
Whatever path our students take when they leave UNCG, I'm convinced they'll be ready. Ready for the road ahead and the unforeseen twists along the way. Ready in the same way you were. And they, just like you, will know what it takes to make a difference in the world around them. They will know how to Do something bigger altogether.
Beth English '07 MALS, Editor