Monday, September 21, 2020
Dear <<First Name>>,
Happy Monday, Deacs! We hope you are doing incredibly well as we look towards week 5 of courses.
REMINDER: New, transfer, and returning Global AWAKEnings students are expected to complete Module II by Thursday, October 1st. Please visit canvas.wfu.edu and log in with your student credentials (e.g. your WFU email username and password). For more details about New Deac 101, please review the following message in full.
One important programming highlight: The 17th annual Hit the Bricks for the Brian Piccolo Cancer Research Drive is scheduled for Monday, September 28th through Thursday, October 1st.
Due to COVID-19, this year’s event will vary from the traditional one-day relay race around the upper quad. Instead, an extended week of safe and socially distant events will take place. Register to run, or make a donation to help support innovative cancer research at Wake Forest Baptist Health. Register for Hit The Bricks today!
Today, our “Letters So Dear” series continues with a message from senior, Douglas W. Maier II:
The 2019-2020 academic year has been a full year, in many regards. The year was complete with twists and turns, the largest of all being the effects of Covid-19 on our communities, both inside and outside the gates of our beautiful Reynolda Campus. I wish I was on campus being a student, a friend, a peer to intellectually engage with, and fulfilling my many campus roles including being a President’s Aide, a Manager for the Women’s Basketball Team, Vice President of Ambassadors in Admissions (the tour guide organization on campus), or an Accounting TA, amongst others. I wish I was preparing to go to New York this summer for my internship at a major investment bank, but this, like all of my campus activities, are currently changing consistently with great uncertainty ahead. This unprecedented time calls for many reflections and actions. Here I want to highlight a few and discuss how my Wake Forest experience, this past year, has shaped and prepared me well to encounter and surpass uncertainty. I implore you to join me in reflection as you prepare for your experience that will touch your heart and mind in currently unfathomable ways.
Uncertain times they are indeed. Above all else, this calls for an unusual level of flexibility. Our ability to adapt is something that makes us special. Humans can encounter and reason through just about any situation. Sometimes we forget this: we overreact or feel like we are helpless. But we must remember, we are currently, and always have been, in control of what we do with our everyday lives. We may not be able to control the situation which external forces, some (including myself) may say God, place us in, but we have the full ability to reason and think about how we want to navigate each set of waters.
One of my favorite professors at Wake Forest, who I only hope all students encounter one day, is Dr. Michael Sloan. Dr. Sloan taught me and my Classics peers the power of the human ability to reason, and how this differentiates us from other species on the planet. It is only a matter of capacity with which we should be concerned, or to what extent are we utilizing our amazing human ability. That is, how do we utilize components of reason in our daily lives? Discipline is freedom is one of the best quotes to summarize the human situation ; I try to deploy it every day.
It is even harder for us to adopt this position of discipline when it is most needed—in times of crisis. But I have learned that the best way to utilize this is to be in a community, much like the one of Wake Forest, where we hold each other to a higher standard, composed of pathos and ethos. We are much more similar than we realize, and if we take the time to explore, and talk with one another…hopefully listen more than talk…we will come to grow in person and community. Covid-19 makes individuals realize that they are not individuals, as we, individuals, commonly mistake our daily efforts in lieu of self-centered concerns, when, in actuality, it is merely impossible to function as a singular unit without others. I beg you to inherit this reality as you embark on your Wake Forest journey—your relationships and understanding of others will accelerate your journey toward a truly fulfilling experience. I wish I had taken this approach from day one. The good news, and something to remember throughout your time at Wake and the future, is that you, hopefully, will always have another chance to live another day one but those are limited as our lives are, so don’t wait. Act now.
Unfortunately, a crisis is what brought us together today, but I hope our future communities will not need assistance from a crisis to grow in one another’s human compassion, empathy, and reason.
Let’s learn from this and act. I know I will.
But instead of learning for myself this time around, I seek to learn for the improvement of the whole — the community we all reason, grow, and learn in each day. On day one of your Wake Forest experience, jump into this community. Every day at Wake is a day of growth. Instead of asking yourself how will I grow, ask yourself: how will we grow? If you invite this reasoning, your own growth will come more rapidly, at a higher level.
If you want a simple way to live out Pro Humanitate, all you have to do is continually ask questions of others. Then listen. That is much more important than the questioning.
Lastly, above getting good grades, joining 10 activities, getting into a sorority, playing first chair in the orchestra, or getting a job, you should really make your first goal at Wake Forest to be this: aim to understand the diversity of the person next to you, whether you know them or not; you will be surprised what you find. Understanding and taking a genuine interest in others, regardless of your first impression of them, is your best way to grow.
Early in my life, I learned the following quote at a very personal level: “Live as if you can die tomorrow, but live knowing you have a full life to live.” The same cycle applies to your Wake Forest experience.
With my deepest regards,
Douglas W. Maier II
Wake Forest University, Class of 2021