As you begin the second week of classes, I hope you are getting settled in on campus and in the Winston-Salem community!
Whether this is your first year, final year, or somewhere in between, welcome. I look forward to seeing you on campus in the coming days and weeks.
Our campus just feels right when you are here. The “Welcome Back” signs, increased traffic, impromptu conversations in the hallways, lines at the Pit, pick-up frisbee on the Quad, and the myriad of events all make my heart beat a little faster and remind me just how special it is to be on this campus.
Like our first years, I am also experiencing my first fall in the Forest. Although I began in my role as vice president for Campus Life in January, a mid-year start can sometimes feel like playing catch-up from the beginning. So, like many of you, I have felt a nervous-excited rush in preparation for your arrival and our first full academic year together. Seeing many of you during move-in and pre-orientation programming, orientation and New Deac Week, Convocation and the first day of classes, and hearing “Hey, Dr. Shea!” has filled me with great joy. It has made me feel that I, too, am a part of this community.
Over the course of my 237 days at Wake Forest, I have committed to reflecting each day. For me, this has been a meaningful way to practice mindfulness and truly take in what I am learning during this season of newness. For those of you who find yourselves at a beginning, I want you to remember, you are only new once. The way you experience this moment will never be able to be replicated. Take it in, reflect, be curious, and open yourself up to a world of possibilities.
Wherever you are in your journey as a Wake Forester, I also want you to lean into your story, your purpose, and your strengths.
I imagine from time to time, each of us has moments where we feel inadequate or that we have to “fake it until we make it” particularly on a campus like ours where we are surrounded by talented students and accomplished faculty and staff. Owning our story helps us to understand our place in the world, what makes us tick, and our unique role in making a difference on campus and in our local and global communities. This comfort “in our own skin” is not only liberating for us, it helps us to appreciate the unique talents and accomplishments in others. For me, this is an important element of pro humanitate. The humanity in each of us is that we want to be enough, and just in case you need to hear it–you already are.
As we embark on the first routine fall in three years, I bring a deep sense of gratitude and excitement that I get to be a part of your college years. I look forward to continuing to listen and partner with you as we cultivate a community where you belong and thrive. You are a part of a community that wants you to succeed, cares deeply about your wellbeing, and is committed to ensuring you have a sense of place.
As you explore your story, I look forward to getting to know it, too. Whether during one-to-one meetings, office hours, or initiatives like Milkshake Mondays, WAKE Up Wednesdays, Gold and Black Chats, or today’s Campus Life Cookout, I hope we will have an opportunity to connect soon!
Happy Fall and Go Deacs,