Words of encouragement from Dr. Shea

Dear Students, 

I hope you enjoyed a restful pause during the Thanksgiving holiday. I think we all needed it as we close in on the final few weeks of the semester. Over the break, I enjoyed time with family and also made time for stillness and reflection. During that time, it may be no surprise that I thought about you and the heaviness of this semester. I also thought about recent interactions with many of you over the past several weeks. At my weekly office hours, Wake Up Wednesday, Milkshake Mondays, or when I run into you at the Pit, I have noticed that many of you seem particularly stressed right now. With so much going on in the world and in our worlds, it is normal to feel overwhelmed. I am writing to give you some encouragement as you embrace these last few weeks before Winter Break. You can do it!

Each of you may be in different places because of your year in college, academic discipline, and, certainly, your lived experience. For seniors, many of you are anticipating the next steps. You’ve worked hard over the past four years, and you want to have a good return on your time, energy, and resources. If you don’t have all the dots connected, it is okay. You don’t have to know all the steps; just follow the next one and it will lead you to the next one. 

The junior year can feel detached for some of our Deacs. Many of you are abroad, while others are preparing to leave. The preparation for re-entry or departing can be both exciting and anxiety-inducing, and for some of you, depending on when you are abroad, it could be an entire academic year before you see members of your class again. 

For sophomores, you may feel the relief that you have “colleged” before, but at the same time, the stress of determining your major, feeling connected, and continuing to meet your academic goals comes with a unique set of pressures. And, for first-years, you are almost finished with your first semester! While you can see a break in sight, your stressors may still include finding your people, settling into academic life, and the continued desire to make Wake Forest home.

Wherever you are in your tenure at Wake, the common thread is that college can be stressful. There is pressure to do all the things, to make all the grades, to get all the internships, and to look completely calm while doing it. As your vice president, I learn daily from all that you are doing, and I want you to normalize asking for help, sharing when you’re overwhelmed, and looking out for your friends. I also want you to know that you don’t have to do it all…right now. 

This place that we call “Mother So Dear” is full of rich opportunities; it is also filled with people who care about you. Over the next three weeks, take care of yourself, look out for one another, and know that many, including me, are cheering for you! As I close, I am linking resources and opportunities to connect within the community. You can also stay updated through my Instagram account as well as Campus Life’s. I look forward to seeing you soon!

Welcome back,